Guide To Internships For College Students In NZ

Date Apr 22, 2021
Blog category Kiwisaver
By Staff Writer

Key contents:

Today, having good work experience is a huge advantage to land your dream job. If you're a college student, consider joining internship programs that are made to help you develop essential skills and prepare you for the job market.

But first, what is an internship?

Imagine landing your first job and realizing it's not the kind of work and environment you want. An internship isn't just an experience you can add to your CV so you can get a higher chance of getting hired after you graduate. Aside from a professional learning experience, it's also a great way for you to know whether the career path you're planning to choose in the future fits you. While some jobs might sound exciting or easy, it's still different when you get to experience it firsthand—it's a reality check for students to help them prepare for the real world. Think of it as a trial for when you land an actual job once you graduate.

Internships usually require a minimum of 120 hours, depending on your college or course curriculum. It's easy to get carried away with enticing job descriptions, so before you send that application, check if the employer has or offers the following:

  • A clear job description for the internship role you're applying for
  • A fair schedule and internship hours
  • An orientation to familiarize you with the employer's work culture and daily tasks you will be doing
  • Proper guidance to make sure you're getting all the learning experience you need
  • Regular feedback about your performance
  • A chance to get a full-time job offer after your internship


What are the types of internships?

  • Employers

The most common type of internships allows students to apply to organizations or government agencies that run an internship program.

  • University

An internship may be compulsory or optional for students depending on the undergraduate or post-graduate program of study.

  • Overseas or international

An international internship offers a great opportunity for students to experience a different life and culture in another country, which can improve both their language skills and intercultural awareness.

Why should I apply for internships in NZ?

An internship offers you the opportunity to apply what you learned in your course, share your ideas in the workplace, and develop essential skills by meeting people working in your field. This is also your chance to meet potential employers that can hire you in the future.

Need more convincing?

Here are some of the many advantages an internship can provide you:

  • It's a learning experience where you can apply your academic and gain practical skills at the same time
  • It's a great way to learn new skills that you can use in any future work environment
  • Gain resources from your colleagues and executives
  • It's an excellent way for you to explore different career paths and help you find the one that suits your skills best
  • It's a great opportunity for you to meet people and grow your network
  • It'll make your transition from a college student to a professional easier since you already have an idea of what to expect

When should I take an internship? How long does it take?

Most students opt to complete an internship during a study break, but you also have the option to take it during term time or at the end of the study. The majority of internships are usually advertised between March and September.

The length of your internship highly depends on your course requirement and what the internship is for, so it's best to confirm first.

Okay, I'm convinced. How do I apply for an internship?

Applying for an internship is much similar to applying for a job. First, you need to find internship job openings. Allot time to research and list those within your interest or field.

You may start looking here:

You may also check this list.

Other ways to look for an internship:

  • Visit employer websites that you like and check their Careers page for internship opportunities. You can also subscribe to their newsletter or follow them on LinkedIn or social media to get updates. 
  • Attend career expos. Most universities hold career expos to allow their students to meet employers, learn more about their organization, and find internship roles that they can apply for. More often than not, a recruiter is also present, which is a good chance for you to ask questions and tips, including the application process.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. Aside from jobs, LinkedIn is a great platform to find internships from your chosen organizations.

I'm done with my list of internship jobs. Now what?

  • Prepare your CV and send that application

Most if not all online applications will require you to submit a CV and cover letter. This is your time to make a good impression on the employer so make sure your CV is nicely put. Include any relevant experience, including volunteer work, any projects you lead, or organizations you're a part of.  You may check how to write a college student resume for an internship and tips here.

  • Prepare for a test

Psychometric tests are made to test your numerical, logical, and literary competency. While not all employers require you to take this test, it's best to come prepared.

  • Prepare for an interview

Some employers require phone interviews to test your verbal communication skills, background, activities, etc. In some instances, you'll be asked for a recorded video of your answers to the questions the employer has prepared for you in advance.

  • Get ready for a face-to-face interview

Most employers request for an interview to get to know you better, including your motivations, experiences, and whether you're fit for the role you're applying for. Here's a helpful guide to help you prepare for interviews.


What happens if I get accepted or rejected?

If you get accepted, you can expect the following:

  • An email and contract from your employer, which you can review to make sure you'll be getting what you signed up for, including the work schedule and the number of work hours you need to render. If you have any questions or clarification regarding your contract, don't hesitate to message your employer or the person in charge of recruitment.

If you got offers from more than one organization, you could consider the following to help you decide which offer to choose:

  • Learning opportunities - Choose the one that you think will provide you with the proper guidance
  • Based on your interviews, which organization did you like the most? This is a great way to gauge whether you'll enjoy your internship job with the people you'll be working with 

If you did not get an offer from your chosen employers, you could do the following:

  • First, don't be discouraged as you can still keep applying for other internship jobs. You can also use this time to assess how you performed in your applications, from your CV to interviews, so that you can do better next time.

Got more questions? Check our FAQ below:

Will I get paid?

Whether you'll get paid for your internship or not depends on your employer, so be sure to check and ask when you apply.

Do employers care about grades and extracurricular activities?

The importance of your academic performance differs for each employer. However, it's important to note that most of them use it to screen applicants initially, and they may have a minimum grade requirement that each applicant must meet to get picked for an interview. That said, it's important to keep your records good as this will give you higher chances to get chosen.

Aside from an internship, be prepared for your post-graduate life financially! Start saving as early as today and become more responsible with your money with a KiwiSaver plan.

Compare and find the best KiwiSaver scheme for you here at CompareBear!