Practical work experience is, of course, the major objective of any internship project. These training options can be divided into the following different types, depending on the students’ preferences, the progress in their studies when they apply, and – with obligatory internships – the university requirements:Practical work experience is, of course, the major objective of any internship project. These training options can be differentiated into the following different types, depending on the students’ preferences, the progress in their studies when they apply, and – with obligatory internships – the university requirements:
... which is meant to offer the intern the possibility to explore »real working life« in an environment more or less closely related to his/her field of study, and not necessarily of a highly demanding professional nature. Support work, special projects, admin jobs, or any assignment in which the student’s qualifications and intentions match with the employer, qualify as valid work experience. This type of internship with its main objectives of experiential learning and integration into the employer’s working schedules will mainly be looked for by students seeking voluntary and/or additional practical assignments. Depending on the individual arrangement, »work experience« can include more demanding and valuable activities, if the candidates are advanced students who can offer significant contributions to the employer. For example, certain qualifications students have could fit well into particular ongoing project work ,that in turn would profit from additional temporary staff.
... which ideally should offer to the trainees an opportunity to apply specific skills they have learned and accumulated to a professional working environment. This is done at a higher level of responsibility than it is the case with basic »work experience«. Career training opportunities are sought by students looking to find placements for their obligatory training phases, or by recent graduates who are eager to begin their professional life after university by gaining additional international expertise. Employers, too, very often find themselves on the winning side as they can profit from the very up-to-date knowledge and scientific experience that young people, still in or just out of university, bring with them. Also, many companies and organisations mention that the outside perspectives which trainees offer can exert a very stimulating influence on their own workforce. At the same time, well-qualified and interculturally well-prepared staff with foreign language skills, who are happy with a temporary assignment and usually lower benefit and salary expectations, are hard to find and much needed by many employers. In that case, career training becomes mutually profitable, as long as the trainee matches the company’s needs and the employer is prepared to offer some supervision and guidance and, within very reasonable limits, to support the university in monitoring the success of the internship.
... can be best described as a very target-oriented type of Career Training which, in addition to the practical training aspect, is utilised by trainees as a source and basis for an important scientific paper. This is usually their bachelor’s or masters’ thesis, which is commonly required as the final assignment students have to submit. The topic develops from the student’s individual course of study and, growing out of real life considerations, matches the tasks and working areas of employers in the field. Very often, companies define those topics as part of their own search for results in a given field. They can make good use of their dedicated and specialised trainees who carry out related research, experiments, surveys, or any other relevant project or fieldwork. In return, trainees need to rely on the employer’s permission to use the results in their thesis. Occasionally and after signing an agreement, such projects may also profit from the university’s resources.
For employers, the great advantage of the Combined Training arises from dealing with very advanced students close to the end of their studies. Thus, they are fully qualified to tackle complex and demanding tasks and to find solutions that can very often be of great value to the company’s objectives. The practical relevance will always form the core of this type of training, which is of additional significance in countries where work permits for pure research are much harder to obtain than those for practical training components.
... have always been considered as completely different from anything usually described as practical training. This view stems from the fact that the majority of »work & travellers« is usually looking for any kind of seasonal job, simply to earn some money in order to support themselves while exploring a foreign country. At the same time, those who work for extended periods (some visas under the Work & Travel category are valid for up to one year) clearly gather valuable insights into working life, and the industry they are occupied in. Seasonal work, devotedly and diligently done, surely offers important learning effects, too.
Furthermore, through the open nature of the Work & Travel programme, the work is not limited to just seasonal jobs, but also covers more challenging positions. Work & Travel activities are mostly pursued in the summer and involve a time frame ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months (this framework strongly depends on the respective visa legislation in countries requiring work permits). Work & Travel may be the way to go for those students enrolled in programmes less strongly related to a potential professional field after graduation to spend some time in an operation that is of interest to them. Through Work & Travel, students of, for example, humanities, languages, or cultural studies have the chance to experience a very open and rewarding kind of internship. In some more socially oriented fields of study, volunteer work and charitable projects come close to this type of work experience.