The age-old challenge of needing experience to land a job but needing a job to gain experience can be solved by an internship or volunteering. Studies have shown that employers view candidates with relevant volunteer and internship experience as more desirable. While the entry point and level of mentoring provided varies between internships and skill-based volunteering, they share benefits of providing an opportunity to gain relevant experience, networking and obtaining referrals. Both volunteering and internships can give an inside perspective into a career field, helping a candidate decide whether the profession is truly a fit with his skills and interests.
Internships provide on-the-job training and can be paid or unpaid. Typically, more mentoring is provided than when volunteering. Often, there is a more stringent application process, and many candidates may be competing for one or a few intern positions. More specific time commitments are usually required of interns.
Volunteering is an unpaid opportunity available in the non-profit sector. There may be little mentoring but the added benefit of helping the cause of the organization. A less stringent commitment and application process is typically required to secure and maintain a volunteer position.
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