Long live the internship
Some programs have it, others don't: the industrial internship. Our university considers it very important that students prepare themselves during their studies for the next step after graduation. There are an awful lot of possibilities once you finish your studies, working at a startup or at a large corporate? Or will you continue to do research? What sector do you like?
You can keep looking around until you're blue in the face, but you truly get a feel for what you like when you start working somewhere. The internship is the perfect tool for that!
Some programs have a mandatory internship in their curriculum. Sometimes even already in the bachelor’s phase. As the last part of the Chemical Engineering & Chemistry master's program, most students, including me now, do an industrial internship. Some programs do not have this. These students graduate without any work experience at a company. To be honest, that seems quite scary to me, when you apply for a 'real job' and you haven't been able to take a taste whether you like it or not during an internship.
I myself have been very busy with career orientation in recent years. I even spent a year on the board and worked on a number of projects at our university. Before choosing an internship, I thought I was pretty sure what I liked. Then, August 2022, I started my internship. And it turns out, I enjoy my internship very much. Still, it's always a gamble because you don't really know how you like it until you're actually there. It's an ideal opportunity to test your hypotheses.
It may even have been the most valuable part of my studies. First, I've learned a lot about myself; from dealing with a lot of information, to managing expectations and putting my skills and personality to work for an organization. Second, I have come to new career insights. Talking to many employees helped me see more connections and think more long-term. Finally, I simply learned that I really enjoy working: much more than studying. Because of my internship, I feel like I am ready for a new step.
Fellow students and friends of mine all come up with similar stories. It gives real insights that help you further; very different from a graduation project at university. Hence my appeal to the programs that don't have this in the curriculum yet: include it! In any case, I will now rate my program higher in the National Student Survey!