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I am a second-year master's student in my program. I specifically chose to study at the school I am at right now because of its location, especially its proximity to think tanks, NGOs, and government agencies. Since I felt that because my classes are in the evenings, I could take part in internships during the day. Even during the academic semester, I feel as if internships are difficult to land. Most of the internships in my field of area and the city itself, are unpaid. There are some positions, from my perspective, are paid internships, but are advertised as contractual work (lasting only a few months). There was a so-called "contractual work" position with an academic nature someplace that I went for an interview a few weeks ago. The pay was just minimum wage in my city. When I was applying, I had to submit my resume, cover letter, and writing sample. The people interviewing me never read my writing sample, which became evident to me at the time of the interview. I eventually got turned down by that place, but I never heard back from places that only offer unpaid internships (not even for interviews).

Many of my classmates seem to have worked a few different internships, especially at think tanks and offices one each semester, but theirs were unpaid. I never interned as a student. Before enrolling in my program, I had thought of deferring for a year, which my program allows. I was offered a position at a small firm, but I turned it down at family recommendations to seek a better job. I was unlucky to find another better job, so I eventually went to graduate school.

I personally think that internships, even unpaid ones, are hard to find. In my opinion, internships are more difficult to land than real jobs are. Do internships even help with seeking real jobs? I read an article saying that only paid internships are helpful for finding jobs, while unpaid ones are not. One other question: since I am graduating in May 2018, when would be the best time to apply for jobs? How long after the application deadline does the hiring decision-making processes take?

  • Your last two questions I believe are really opinion-based and probably off topic, as the first one is strongly subjective and the second one depends on the company making hiring decisions. Your first question however is answerable. – DarkCygnus Sep 13 '17 at 22:06
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    "Does work experience help with finding a job?" Of course it does. Is that even a question worth asking or answering? Of course it also matters what you're actually going to be doing during the internship. – Dukeling Sep 13 '17 at 22:10
  • @GrayCygnus I'd argue that the last question is probably the most appropriate one - while this might vary greatly between applications, knowing when to start applying for jobs prior to graduation seems like a fairly common and answerable question. – Dukeling Sep 13 '17 at 22:14
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Do internships even help with seeking real jobs?

If by help seek real jobs you mean "are internships valid work experience" then yes, they are.

Internships can take place in any company, of different sizes, where the internee has some tasks to complete, usually while learning the ways of the company and most of the times learning how to use new technology, standards, etc. They also most certainly take place withing the environment of the company, giving the internee experience on professional behavior and attitudes.

...since I am graduating in May 2018, when would be the best time to apply for jobs?

Since you are about to graduate (and seems you are not currently working, nor seem to need to) it would be wise to give your full attention to getting your degree and then seeking for jobs, so you don't get caught between both of them. This choice is up to you, but if you want you can try searching for jobs a few months before you graduate (when you are not loaded with projects or similar), or when you finish courses and wait for your degree.

How long after the application deadline does the hiring decision-making processes take?

This depends on each company. However most of them start their decision-making right after the deadline ends. How much will it take is also up to each company, but in most cases they decide within the first days after the deadline (if they really need to fill the job). In some cases, where they are not in an urge to fill the job it may take longer than that.

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Do internships even help with seeking real jobs?

Yes, they do. I've helped many an intern in their job search. I've even hired a few of the good ones myself. (Sadly, a few of the good ones got away. But they got great recommendations anyway.)

I read an article saying that only paid internships are helpful for finding jobs, while unpaid ones are not.

If that's what the article says, then I disagree. And I'd like to know the basis for their claim.

I personally know lots of folks who were interns at one time - some paid and some unpaid. Virtually all of them got a lot out of most of their internships. And all of them ended up getting jobs after graduation.

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