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Internships: Get a foot in the door and gain experience for your CV

Just like volunteer work at a non-profit organisation, an internship at a business can be a good way to gain new experiences and skills. It can also be a good way to get your foot in the door with a particular business or industry. It also gives you something extra to put on your CV, particularly as a recent graduate.

Internships are opportunities for you to gain insight into an industry and workplace that you may not be so familiar with. They give you the chance to gain work experience and build particular skills that are useful within a given industry and workplace. They can also give you the chance to get your foot in the door with a particular organisation or business you think you would enjoy working for.

As a new graduate and job hunter, there's no doubt that you have some wishes and dreams for your work life. You've probably also thought a lot about what you would like to have in your future career, such as ways to fulfil your professional ambitions.

That's why it's also important for you to know what you want out of an internship and to consider the reasons for applying to an internship at a particular place. Have a clear strategy so that you know what you want to get out of your internship.

Create an internship strategy

Before applying, it's a good idea to ask yourself what you want to get out of your time as an intern.
Be clear about why you're interested in that particular industry, those particular skills, and those particular experiences — and what you plan to use them for later.

Here are some good questions you can use to clarify what you want an internship to do for you:

Industry knowledge:

  • In what industry do you want to apply for an internship?
  • What will you use your newly found industry knowledge for?
  • How will you work to build experience in the industry during your internship?

Skill development:

  • What kinds of skills do you want to develop during your internship (e.g., professional, personal, and/or relational skills)?
  • Can you describe your learning objectives for your internship?
  • What tasks would you like to work with during your internship?

Networking focus:

  • What kind of network do you want to cultivate during your internship?
  • Internal: within the business/organisation
  • External: e.g., business partners?

By answering these questions, you can clarify exactly how an internship will help you with your career. You'll also be able to write a better cover letter that focuses on how you can develop in the internship, and what you want to work with during the internship.

Unemployment benefits and unemployment insurance funds

Internships with unemployment benefits are available to all members of an unemployment insurance fund. You can undertake an internship from the first day of your unemployment. An internship can last up till 4 weeks, and you can undertake more than one internship within the same unemployment benefit period. You must however continue to search and apply for jobs during your internship.

"For people who are highly educated, it's always about finding a good match between the job, the business, and the job seeker. That's why the best internships are always those where the graduate has found the business or organisation themselves and reached out", says Karin Rose Kolding, a consultant at Magisternes A-kasse. "My best advice is to seek out whatever it is you want. But we're happy to help with things like reading over cover letters or offering advice on applying for an internship somewhere you recently applied for a job."

Your internship has to be approved by the job center, and the internship must be recorded in your job plan that you create in cooperation with the job center. It is important that you don’t start your internship before you have signed you job plan. There are two reasons for this. First you have to have permission to undertake a job that normally is paid without it affecting you unemployment benefits. Secondly you have to be insured when you go to work.

In general, internships are 37 hours per week. Other numbers of hours can also be arranged, but they must be approved by the job center.

You'll receive unemployment benefits during your internship, and you can also apply to receive travel compensation from your unemployment insurance fund.

How it works

The workplace applies to have you as an intern through vitas.bm.dk. The application will be sent online to the job center who then approves it and lets you and the workplace know of the approval. The process is simple and efficient, so don’t let it be a barrier for you.

Contact MA

You can contact MA if you need advice about unemployment benefits.

Contact MA (in Danish)