What Will I Learn From an Academic Internship?

10 Jul, 2023 | Online Internships, University Preparation

Academic internships are a great way to boost your practical skills and knowledge beyond the classroom, preparing you for university and your future career

Universities are looking for candidates with strong academic skills and relevant extracurricular experiences. An internship offers the opportunity to apply what you’ve learnt in school to a real-world context, and to begin to build a professional network of industry connections. 

Participating in an academic internship allows you to gain exposure to different career paths, industries and work cultures, and to reflect on your career goals to develop a career path that aligns with your passions and aspirations.

A First-Hand Experience

One of the most valuable aspects of an academic internship is the chance to gain exposure to subject-specific practices. While classroom lectures and textbooks offer a solid foundation of knowledge, internships allow you to witness first-hand how these concepts are actually applied in real-world scenarios. 

By immersing yourself in an organisation or industry, you’ll gain hands-on experience with the latest trends, technologies and methodologies, as well as gaining an understanding of the daily challenges industry professionals may face. 

Internships also provide the unique opportunity to engage in research alongside experts, meaning you could have the chance to contribute to a potentially ground-breaking project in your field!

From Theory to Practice

Academic internships allow you to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve gained in class, giving you the opportunity to actively engage with your subject. This kind of experience fosters a deeper understanding of the application of theoretical concepts, and enables you to grasp the nuances and complexities of your chosen subject. 

This experiential learning solidifies knowledge and skills through real-life examples and challenges, creating a lasting impression and comprehensive understanding.

Developing Your Skills

An academic internship can offer you exceptional opportunities to develop beyond the traditional classroom setting. By allowing you to observe and learn from industry experts, they provide an excellent environment to broaden your perspectives, foster critical thinking and inspire new areas of inquiry. 

Interns also hone key transferable skills that are valuable in academic and professional settings, such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking. Working in a diverse team during an internship allows students to develop effective communication skills, learn how to effectively navigate group projects, and practise adapting to different work styles. By critically analysing complex problems and proposing innovative solutions, students also develop problem-solving skills and new ways of thinking.

Internships also provide opportunities for the development of essential academic skills, such as academic writing, reading advanced sources and referencing. Through the guidance and mentorship of professionals, you’ll learn to write clear, concise and well-structured academic papers or reports, navigate complex academic texts, understand specialised terminology, and critically analyse scholarly arguments. These skills provide a solid foundation for your future academic pursuits.

Forming Connections

Through an academic internship, you’ll be given the opportunity to network with industry experts and experienced professionals. You’ll be able to showcase your skills and enthusiasm while building long-lasting connections that can lead to future collaborations and job opportunities. 

Internships also provide mentorship and guidance, helping you to identify your strengths, areas for improvement and potential career pathways. The relationships built during an internship can extend beyond the internship period, becoming part of your professional network. 

Professionals who witness an intern’s dedication, work ethic and skills, may serve as valuable references or recommendations for future job applications. These connections can lead to potential referrals to unadvertised positions and emerging opportunities.

OxBright student participating in an online academic internship.

Enhancing Your CV

If you’re looking to enhance your CV, boost your employability and improve university applications, an academic internship can give you the edge. 

In today’s competitive job market, practical experience is highly valued. Including an academic internship on a CV will showcase your dedication to professional development, your ability to work in a professional environment, and your understanding of industry dynamics. 

Actively participating in an internship will not only prepare you for future employment, but also give you a competitive edge in university applications and beyond. You’ll gain insights into the coursework, research and projects you are likely to encounter in university settings, preparing you for university study. 

Internships also showcase your commitment to your chosen field, a willingness to go beyond classroom learning and your ability to apply your knowledge in practical settings.

Building Your Confidence

Last, but certainly not least, academic internships encourage personal, as well as professional, development – they’re transformative experiences that foster personal growth and build confidence. An academic internship will encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone, take on new responsibilities and face real-world challenges. 

An academic internship will give you the space to explore your capabilities, test your limits and recognise your own potential, ultimately boosting your self-confidence and self-belief!

One of the significant benefits of academic internships is the opportunity to explore your personal strengths, interests and professional aspirations. Through an internship, you have the chance to experiment, learn and reflect on your experiences, gaining clarity about the career paths you may wish to pursue. 

As you encounter obstacles and unforeseen circumstances, you’ll learn to think on your feet, problem-solve and adapt to new situations. Overcoming these challenges not only strengthens your practical skills, but also enhances your resilience and confidence in your abilities, helping you to embrace future opportunities.

OxBright’s academic internship programmes offer you the perfect opportunity to get ahead of your peers, and gain a greater understanding of your chosen subject – whether that’s Law, Politics or Engineering – all while enjoying a fun and enriching experience alongside peers and professionals.


By Steph Towler

Steph is an undergraduate at the University of Bristol where she studies Spanish and Russian. Her interests include reading, particularly contemporary fiction, and historical linguistics.
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