Asked on 27 Feb 2020
Hi! I'm currently an undergraduate at NUS, am considering whether I should go for exchange or intern instead. Which would be a better option? For all those employers out there, do you actually care about internships when looking at a portfolio? Is it a necessity?
As an undergraduate at NUS, I believe you have the option of going for both the exchange program as well as internship.
However, if given a choice, I would opt for internship. Internship is the time for you to gain relevant working experience. As an employer, and if I were to hire a fresh grad, I would choose someone who went for internship over someone who do not.
Similiar to Andy, based on my recruiting experience, it is likely that the exchange portion will be parked under the education column and it is very easy for recruiters to miss it. When it comes to hiring fresh grads, I would be on the lookout of past internship experiences to get an idea of how the individual might value add to the company.
Speaking from a fresh grad POV, I was thankful that my course has made it compulsory for us to have internships. I did mine at MOE and have learned alot of skills that I otherwise wouldn't have picked up on my own. I also had more things to share during my interviews.
Although I agree that people generally gain super great experiences and memories while on exchange but if you are asking from a pragmatic perspective, I would advise you to go for an internship. Or you can also consider doing an overseas internship (e.g. NUS Overseas College) to gain both the fun as well as the working experience?
Hope this helps! :)
Pascal S, MBA Graduate at Singapore Management University
Answered on 28 Feb 2020
Do as many as you can.
Local internship. Overseas internship.
And minimum, 3 months.
Assume you can do 5 internships, make sure 3 of them are related to your field of study and 2 of them will help you to build new skillsets outside of your field of study!
Funny thing - I did an environmental audit internship in my early 20s while I was a finance student, no relationship to my course of study back then!
Yes, internship is important in my industry. If u able to present yr work done during internship well, it's a very big advantage n high chance to get hired.
Exchange program is really nothing to us as we treat it as u had yr fun time at another university, that's all.
Andy Sim, HR Professional at a Financial Institution
Updated on 27 Feb 2020
Would you be able to go for both? I.e. internship in year 2, exchange in year 3 something like that. Unless you are already in your final year so you have to choose one? Cos if not, best is go for both.
Honestly as a recruiter, I would look at internship experience, whether you have some work experience especially if it helps in the job that you are applying for. Usually people put exchange in as part of the education section in the CV, but it can be easily missed if a recruiter glances through. So if there's no choice, I'd rather choose internship than exchange.
But nonetheless, no right or wrong answer, just how you value things.
An internship definitely puts you at an edge over your peers. However, some uni has made internship compulsory so comparatively, you might start of at different level.
Internships allows you to know how the working world is like, pick up hard skills for your particular industry and probably easier for you to integrate into a company in the future. This is not to say you shouldnt go for exchange. Exchanges, which can be one time opportunity, allow for self-development, exploring of interests and cross-cultural understanding which boost on your soft skills. If possible, go for both.