We rounded off the last module by looking at your Marketing Collateral as an individual. We looked at how to develop a CV, cover letter, online presence, and portfolio. Next, we will examine the places you will use these resources.

Every journey has a destination and it is essential to have as much information as possible about the destinations possible. This reality is also applicable to your internship journey. In this case, the destination of your internship is the industry. It is also known as the world of work or simply ‘the workplace’. An overview of how an “industry” is structured will let you know what options are available for your internship.

Let’s look at the different kinds of organisations that make up every industry. Every industry has broadly two types of organisations by ownership. These are private and public organisations. Let us take a look at each one of them.

  1. Private Organisations

These are organisations owned by an individual, a family, or a group of individuals. They are usually set up for profit and can sometimes be non-profit. Private sector organisations include small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), startups, large enterprises, social enterprises, and NGOs. Private organisations which are listed on the stock exchange for members of the public to become shareholders are called publicly listed companies.

Private Organisations include:

  1. SMEs and Startups

SMEs are small to medium-sized organisations typically employing around 2 to 250 persons. Startups, in their early days, are often a form of small to medium-sized organisations that create digital platforms, products, or services to solve a problem. SMEs and Startups usually do not have a highly formal human resource unit. However, one or two persons may be responsible for human resource management. They are often open to interns to support their operations, product development, and customer engagement using digital tools. SMEs and startups are flexible in taking in interns; they usually do not announce that they are open to interns. Some startups may make public their search for interns to fill specific roles. You can secure internships at an SME or Startup by reaching out to the founders and staff of the company directly or someone in their network. The interview process, if any, is usually less structured and may not include aptitude tests. The interview process is likely informal and more chatty and may require you to work on a sample project in addition to a short test.  Internships at startups can be a great way to gain experience in a fast-paced and innovative environment. The internship may be paid or unpaid. Internships at SMEs can be a great way to gain hands-on experience in a business environment. You will likely have more significant responsibilities than interning in a large organisation. You will get to work on new products or projects or projects. As an intern, you will likely become part of a small team where your contributions can be noticed and significant. While there might be fewer resources than in large corporations, the learning opportunities are vast, and you gain firsthand experience in the startup’s growth journey. The work atmosphere is less formal and entrepreneurial. Contributing to the work and cultivating a good relationship with the team can lead to future opportunities with the company after your internship. These companies are also often open to you as a place you can work during subsequent holidays and a first job after graduation. 

  1. Large Enterprises 

These organisations employ a substantial number of people—typically, more than 250 and may be distributed across locations within a country or globally. Some are multinationals with operations in several countries. These organisations are governed by a board of directors and managed by a team of executives overseeing various departments and divisions. Many of these organisations have a structured internship programme announced through their website and social media pages. Internships at large organisations are often paid and competitive. A test is usually required to shortlist interview candidates. Individuals within large organisations may independently be able to recruit interns, but this must comply with the human resource process of the organisation. This makes networking and building relationships relevant in securing an internship at large organisations. The internship experience is often well-structured, offering interns exposure to different facets of the organisation. Interns are assigned to specific departments. Here, they work on projects, work with experienced professionals, and gain insights into corporate processes and culture. The experience may include mentorship, training programs, and networking opportunities, providing a valuable foundation for future career prospects within the organisation or the industry.

  1. Social Enterprises and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) 

Social enterprises and NGOs are mission-driven organisations focused on creating positive social or environmental impact. Many development agencies such as USAID, DFID and GIZ operate NGOs or work collaboratively with other NGOs. Private foundations and charities also do. The structure of operations for social enterprises may resemble that of traditional businesses, while NGOs often have a more decentralised and project-based approach. To get an internship in a social enterprise, candidates can often apply directly through the organisation’s website, networking events or by reaching out and stating how they can contribute to the organisation’s mission. For NGOs, internships can be obtained through online applications, volunteer programs, or university partnerships. The typical internship experience in social enterprises and NGOs involves hands-on work on projects related to the organisation’s mission. Interns may have opportunities to engage with communities, contribute to initiatives, and learn from professionals and volunteers working on a cause. Both social enterprises and NGOs may offer paid and unpaid internships, depending on various factors such as the organisation’s budget, resources, and policies. Social enterprises, especially those with a business-oriented model, are more likely to provide paid internships as they function similarly to traditional for-profit businesses. These enterprises may view internships as opportunities to recruit potential future employees. NGOs, being non-profit organisations, may have more budget constraints. As a result, some may offer unpaid internships or provide stipends to cover basic expenses. Unpaid internships in NGOs often offer valuable learning experiences and contribute to the organisation’s mission rather than as a means of hiring future employees.

That’s all for now about private organisations.

B. Public Sector Organisations 

These organisations operate as an arm of government to serve the public and rarely for profit, except if set up as a public enterprise, national corporation, or divested into a private entity. Public sector organisations include Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), teaching and research institutions, and public enterprises.

There are always internship opportunities in both Private and Public sector organisations.

Let’s now take a deeper look into public sector organisations.

Public Sector Organisations

  1. Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs)

MDAs exist at national and state levels of government. Ministries oversee and set policies related to a sector and related industries. Ministries have departments and agencies which handle specific government functions. They are often responsible for the implementation and operations of policies and operations set up by a ministry. MDAs are often open for internships but are rarely formally announced and paid. However, working at an MDA can expose you to the internal workings of government and private sector organisations that often depend on them for approvals and regulations. You can secure an internship at an MDA by finding someone you know or someone who knows someone who works there. To reach out to them, you may have to visit in person for consideration for an internship opening. Interning in an MDA may provide a foundation for a career in the public sector.

  1. Public Enterprises

Public Enterprises may also exist as National Corporations. These are organisations partly or fully owned by the government. They may be partly or fully controlled by the government. They do not only serve citizens but operate as a business. They provide essential goods or services to the public and support the government’s social and economic objectives. These organisations employ many people with offices across the nation or a state. Public Enterprises may also provide highly competitive internship programmes that are structured and announced for people to apply to or accessible through direct relationships. An internship experience at a public enterprise will likely provide you with more administrative and staff support work experience, as technical functions are usually outsourced to private companies working as government contractors. The experience may include training programs and networking opportunities with professionals in the industry and government officials, providing an invaluable network that spans the public and private sectors.

  1. Research Institutions and Development Centres:

Research Institutions and Development Centres are organisations that conduct research and development activities to advance knowledge and innovation in specific fields. These Institutions may focus on academic research, social studies, scientific investigations, and exploring new ideas to contribute to the body of knowledge within their domain. Development Centres, on the other hand, are entities established to develop new solutions, products, technologies, or processes that contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the organisation.

Many of these institutions are founded or funded by the government. However, they can also be founded or funded by private companies for research and development. Though many of these institutions rarely formally announce a structured internship programme, you may network into an internship opportunity by contacting a researcher or staff. You can also seek referrals from professors, researchers, or industry experts with connections within these research-driven organisations. Though the internship may be unpaid, they often have well-trained staff with access to infrastructure for research and networks. Several of these institutions also offer training programmes and facilities through which you can develop your skills. You will also have several opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, and seminars, where you interact with researchers and industry professionals from diverse backgrounds.

We have now looked at the different kinds of organisations in the private and public sectors. In the next topic, we will look into finding organisations for your internship.

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Updated on January 30, 2024