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Should I Get an Internship or a Job Consider Your Options

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College graduates who enter the job market with professional work experience have a big advantage over those who don’t. For many employers, “work experience” is an even more important than your major or GPA when evaluating you for a position.

But how does one get work experience?

Internships are a common option for students looking to gain experience while earning an income. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, paid internships, as opposed to unpaid internships, also result in more full-time job offers and higher salaries upon graduation. Unfortunately, the likelihood of landing a paid internship is not that high: additional research from the NACE indicates only 56.7 percent of interns are paid.

A viable alternative to both unpaid and paid internships is contract labor. This option offers a guaranteed income, and also provides many of the same career advantages as internships — as well as few additional benefits internships can’t claim.

What is contract labor?

You may be more familiar with the term “temp job.” Companies rely on temporary workers for a number of reasons. Maybe the company is growing, and they aren’t yet sure of how many full-time employees they’ll need. Maybe they’re working through a major project or seasonal influx that requires extra staff.

That’s when employers turn to companies like Aerotek, who build strong relationships with qualified workers, to find the right candidates for contract work positions on a temporary basis that can last days, weeks, months, or even years.

There’s evidence that contract work is a growing part of the U.S. workforce. Temp and contract work is not only trending — it’s becoming the new normal as growing companies rely on technology to quickly train talented workers.

What does contract labor offer that internships don’t?

Contract work opportunities are fundamentally different than internships, and can benefit workers in ways that internships can’t.:

  • Guaranteed pay: By law, temp and contract work has to be paid, while internships can remain unpaid. According to the American Staffing Association, average hourly wages for temp workers are competitive.
  • Easier application process: The process of finding temp work can be much less time-consuming and frustrating than submitting individual applications to each internship or summer job opportunity.
  • Hands-on work experience: The benefits of internship programs can vary widely from company to company. As a contract worker, your responsibilities will be well defined.
  • Expanded professional networks: While internship programs do offer the opportunity for professional networking, developing a relationship with a recruiting partner allows you to tap into a more extensive network of hiring managers.
  • Built-in guidance: Your recruiting partner has a front-row seat to the job market, and can offer key career advice about the professional certifications, skills and educational opportunities that are currently in the highest demand in your field of choice.

Additional benefits of contract labor

Besides being a great way to jump-start your career, temp work provides a host of other career advantages, including:

  • The ability to add a range of professional work experience to your resume that is comparable to internship experience.
  • An opportunity to test-drive different careers and companies to give you a better idea of what you want and are best suited for.
  • On-the-job training and hands-on work experience that you don’t have to pay for.
  • The potential to travel and find employment quickly in a part of the country you’d like to explore.

Finding contract work

If you find yourself struggling to land an internship or summer job, you should consider contract work as an option. It’s a great time to do so.

Aerotek recruiters are here to help guide you through the process. To find a position that’s suited for your goals, visit our job board to find your next great opportunity. Create a free career account today to customize your search.