Applying for a job that requires prior work experience? Are you asking yourself, “Does an internship count as employment?” You’re not alone!
The short answer is – yes. An internship is work, so it does count as employment / work experience.
Why internships count as employment
As someone who’s written dozens of job descriptions, I can tell you the reason they include a minimum work requirement: employers want to hire people who’ve done it before.
They’re looking for people who’ve made mistakes, developed processes, and succeeded in the past – people who’ve gone to the right school of experience for the job they need to fill.
A good internship is probably the fastest you’ll ever move up the learning curve: you get to see how people do a job, you have some responsibility and you’re constantly learning – so if a job requires “prior experience,” you can certainly add your internship to your total employment experience to qualify for a job.
When do internships not count as employment
All of that said, there are some circumstances when internships may not count as employment:
- Part-time internships. While you can still include part-time internships in your job experience when applying for a role, employers realize that you didn’t spend as much time (and learn as much) as you would have in a full-time role. So a yearlong part-time internship won’t get you 1 year’s worth of credit for an employer. Typically, it would count for the amount of time it would have taken if you were working full-time.
- Internships that aren’t relevant for the job you’re applying for. Most jobs require a certain amount of relevant prior work experience. So, if your job requires 2 years engineering experience and your internship was in marketing, you’re not going to get credit towards the required experience.
- Internships without full-time work. Let’s say you’ve had a total of 2 years worth of internships. Most jobs looking for two years of work experience won’t accept only internships. (They’ll wonder why you couldn’t get a full-time job.) So, while it’s OK to add internship time to your other experience, it’ll be hard to satisfy an experience requirement with internship experience alone.