An internship can be a method of on-the-job training for white-collar and professional careers, yet there are no formal standards defining them as such. Internships for professional careers are similar in some ways to apprenticeships for trade and vocational jobs.
Although interns are typically college or university students, they can also be high school students or post-graduate adults. On occasion, they are middle school or even elementary students. In some countries, internships for school children are called work experience. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and are usually understood to be temporary positions.
Generally, an internship consists of an exchange of services for experience between the student and an organization. Students can also use an internship to determine if they have an interest in a particular career, create a network of contacts, or gain school credit.
Some interns find permanent, paid employment with the organizations with which they interned. This can be a significant benefit to the employer as experienced interns often need little or no training when they begin regular employment. Unlike a trainee program, however, employment at the completion of an internship is not guaranteed.
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