It's not easy to get ahead these days. For millennials, there seems to be nothing out there but unpaid internships - and only if you know the right people.
A Daily Telegraph article from August 2016 stated that half of internships given in the European Union are now unpaid.
In 2010, the National Union of Students estimated that there were over 70,000 interns in the UK, with 20 percent of that working for nothing.
If you need to pay for rent, food and travel, an internship can end up costing you thousands of dollars a month.
Hong Kong students working oversees also have the additional worry of fulfilling their visa requirements. Internships are particularly common in glamour professions and their associated offshoots, including journalism and publishing. Understandably, there is a lot of debate surrounding such positions which, in many countries, do not comply with minimum wage legislation. Internships have been dubbed exploitive by many sectors.
For employers, internships are obviously a great idea. You get to try out staff before you offer them a contract, with no obligation to hire anyone at all.
However, if you are thinking of taking on an internship, how can you ensure that it works for you?
A recent New York Times article called internships a CV "essential", and stated that employers today now hire 50 percent of their interns as full-time workers.
So the opportunities are out there.
Something that former interns seem to agree on is the fact that you should start early. This means looking for internships during high school and the summer before university.
Even if you end up making the tea, you'll understand how an office works in certain industries.
Before searching for internships, do your research, as companies always hire individuals with a genuine interest in the business. If you can't demonstrate that interest, then why are you applying? If you just want a summer job, McDonald's is always hiring.
Research will give you something to talk about with recruiters, and during interviews.
When you get your internship, be proactive. Don't just sit at your desk. Nobody is going to hold your hand. Learn to politely and graciously introduce yourself, and ask what people are working on.
Can you be of assistance to them? Sell yourself and work on your "elevator pitch."
Don't just hand out a CV and expect people to read it because they won't. Tell a story that brings out experiences not on your resume, but which also ties your skillset to what people are working on.
Lastly, remember to be patient, persistent and resilient. Try to create multiple opportunities so you're not sitting, waiting and wasting time. Put in the hours and try to greet every opportunity with enthusiasm. You have no idea where it might lead.
© 晉博教育中心 Brighten Youth Education Centre