Many students looking for a way to spend their vacation break meaningfully will eventually decide that they want to work. If you have the time to spare, why not earn some money and learn some new skills while you’re at it? But now, the question is: What kind of employment should you seek? If you’re a student, you probably have only had a few months to work, which means your options are narrowed down to two: internships or part-time jobs.

Similarities between internships and part-time jobs.

There are many things that both internships and part-time jobs have in common. The first (and most obvious one) is that both of them can allow you to gain valuable real-life working experience. In both an internship and a part-time job, you will be entrusted with important tasks and are expected to be responsible for your work. The type of working experience you gain will vary depending on the industry you apply for, but they will both help you to get a full-time job in future when your employer asks you if you have any real-life work experience.

The second similarity between internships and part-time jobs is that they both allow you to learn new skills. Some feel that you can learn more from internships, while others may disagree. The takeaways you can get from either part-time employment is mainly dependent on the company you work for, and the type of working attitude you choose to adopt. It is imperative that you do your research carefully before applying to work at a company. See what previous interns or part-time employees have had to say about working there. If you choose the right company and go to work with an open mind, you’ll find that there are endless opportunities presented for you to learn.

Differences between internships and part-time jobs.

The most commonly known difference between internships and part-time jobs is probably their difference in wages. Let’s face it; people are money-minded. When looking for employment, salaries are often one of the first things you will look at. Working 5 days a week and 8 hours a day at a part-time job can quickly earn you more than a thousand a month, while interns are offered a monthly allowance of $600-1000 on average for the same number of hours. Students who prioritise financial stability tend to gravitate towards finding part-time jobs instead because of the attractive pay rates.

If you scratch a little more in-depth below the surface, you’ll realise that there is a fundamental difference between types of jobs offered for internships versus part-time jobs. Generally, part-time jobs are more focused on labour intensive or repetitive actions that become muscle memory after some training. Some typical examples would be cashiering, waitering or data-entry. On the other hand, internships are more focused on jobs that require skills which need to be honed over an extended period of time. The reason for this difference is because part-time employees are typically hired for a specific job that the company needs to be done, whereas the purpose of an internship is primarily for the intern to learn, hence less emphasis is placed on working.

Because of the different job scopes required of interns versus part-time employees, the training that they involve is somewhat contrasting as well. For a part-time job, the duration of training is considerably short due to the generally low skill level required, and you will be expected to work independently soon after being shown the ropes. Contrarily, an intern will be supervised throughout the internship by their mentor(s) in the company, regularly getting feedback on how to improve. As a result, interns often have a more in-depth understanding of the industry by the end of their internship as compared to part-time employees.

So, would you benefit more from an internship or a part-time job? It is likely that the public will never be able to reach a consensus about which form of employment is the better option as there are both advantages and disadvantages to internships and part-time jobs. Some pros and cons are bound to matter more to some people, and less to others. You need to weigh your needs and priorities to find the answer that best suits you.