With more competition in the jobs market than ever, undergraduates and those who have recently left university may be forgiven for wondering if they will ever be able to land their dream job.
This could particularly be the case in the pharmaceutical industry, where job opportunities are perhaps less likely to crop up as regularly as in other fields - and when they do, they are applied for by hundreds of people.
What can jobseekers do to ensure they stand out and make it more likely that they will open a door to a fantastic new career? Well, one possibility to consider is an internship.
What are internships?
Also called work placements or industrial placements, internships are relatively short periods of employment within a company that allow participants to carry out a role as they would if they were employed there full-time.
They typically last anywhere between a week and 12 months and most people who apply for them are students, undergraduates or postgraduates. Participants are likely to be set projects and goals to complete while they are there.
Benefits of doing an internship
Many students can be wary of internships out of concern that they will be stuck carrying out menial jobs such as photocopying and fetching coffee for team members. There is also the fact that some placements are unpaid, which is off-putting for anyone with bills to pay or something to save up for.
However, it may be worth taking a closer look at the potential advantages, as employers are increasingly pointing towards internships as one of the most important factors they look for when examining CVs for potential job candidates.
Firstly, they could solve the problem of jobseekers being unable to secure positions because they don't have experience in the field - and unable to get experience because they are unable to get jobs. With an internship, candidates are able to prove they have real experience in their chosen vocation, which is likely to be more appealing to employers than basic qualifications.
Another positive aspect is being able to network and possibly even build up relationships with professionals who can act as mentors later on. Most internships will be closely supervised by professionals, so impressing them could stand jobseekers in good stead further down the line.
It's also worthwhile pointing out that internships can be useful for people who know they want to work in a particular industry, but aren't exactly sure about their dream job. Carrying out a short-term placement means being able to try careers from the inside without needing to fully commit to employment.
A key benefit for interns is being able to get a foot in the door with some of the biggest companies out there - and, importantly, getting the chance to provide evidence of efficiency, diligence, initiative and responsibility, demonstrating the bridging of a gap between education and the working world.
Finally, there is the Holy Grail of internships: the potential of landing a job at the end of it all. Not only will work experience give jobseekers an advantage over those without it, but there is always the possibility that the employer will like what they see so much that they offer a real, permanent role to the candidate.
According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, 36 per cent of graduate intakes were comprised of previous interns in 2016, so it really can happen.
How to succeed in getting an internship
Internships can be highly competitive, so always apply at least six months in advance and show on your application that you have the appropriate knowledge and skills, just as you would for an ordinary job.
Don't forget to demonstrate that you can work well as a team, as interns may be put together in teams to work on collaborative projects.
A word about pay
Remember that if you are performing the role of a worker in the UK - i.e., you have set hours, duties and responsibilities - you should receive at least the Minimum Wage. Placements should be for the benefit of both parties, not simply to provide free labour for the employer.
At the very least, you should be entitled to travel and food allowances for the period of your employment.
Internships can be a valuable first step into the working world of pharmaceuticals or any other field, so perhaps they're worth taking a look at if you've been finding landing that dream career tricky.