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We hear a lot about internships in educational circles. In point of fact, high school and college students are strongly advised to take on or pursue internships in their fields of study. Usually interns are not paid, but there are instances where the intern makes a small amount of money for his or her work during the term of the internship. What the intern is after is a meaningful work experience and exposure to the field in which they think they want to finish their degree work.


So what’s the difference between and internship and an apprenticeship?

We’re glad you asked.

Internships add to your resume, hopefully give you solid experience in your chosen field, may give you exposure to a job interview or offer in your last year or shortly thereafter. The internship may also qualify for college credits toward your degree. “Internships are generally shorter and don’t have any classroom instruction attached to it,” says John Ladd, administrator, Office of Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor. “An intern gets work experience and an apprentice gets more than just work experience.”  Glassdoor Team 2016

Apprenticeships are built on a “earn while you learn” model, and are highly competitive. The apprentice, once qualified for the program, is employed and making a living wage while attending school two to three nights a week for four years (electrical). The typical internship is a semester or less.

The intern is not given tasks critical to the running of or bottom line of the company. Yes, an intern will be working with and entrusted with tasks for the department they work with- but they will not be given anything that involves a business decision and/or needs follow through weeks after they are gone.

The apprentice is on the job. He or she is working in the business and at the tasks that would be expected of a professional in the industry. The apprentice is learning and using industry skills and protocols each and every day that will be germane to their careers.

The college intern graduates after four years, looking for a job.

The apprentice graduates after four years WITH a job.

At IEC Chesapeake, we take pride in our four year electrical and three year telecommunications apprenticeship programs. This Fall we are poised to see 700 students among our nine locations.

We would love to see this model taken up by corporate America. Old school is new school again- internships should be re-evaluated and apprenticeships should be polished off and put back on the table.