Clash of the ships: internship vs traineeship

Ormit Talent

Graduating soon? There you are: a lot of knowledge, a backpack full of learnings, but hardly any practical experience. Eager to make a difference, you start looking for an employer. Big or small, many ask for experience…
Bummer… What now? You need a way to gain practical insights, competencies, and hands-on experience. A quick Google search yields some interesting results. The words internship and traineeship pop-up. Hmmmm, let’s investigate. What’s the difference between both? And how to pick a good one?

If you have seen one ship, you have seen them all….

On the contrary! Although traineeships and internships might look like twins, there are some differences. Some big, some small. We listed the differences for you!


To be paid or not to be paid…

An internship is most likely unpaid. As it is often part of the study curriculum or something you do voluntary to strengthen your resume.
A traineeship is always a paid, usually full-time position. So yes, a traineeship is an actual job. With a real salary and other advantages.  


For your degree or with it?

An internship is mostly done while still in college. Some students do it as a part of their curriculum (so yes, to get their degree). Others do it to gain some experience before searching for a real job.
A traineeship is a development program, yes. But also a job. This means you’ll need your degree to enter the selection process. Or at least, the prospect of it.


Hard, soft or both?

Not talking about eggs, but skills here😉.

An internship is often a chance to put theory into practice. Focused on hard skills. At the end, you gain experience and probably some more confidence for the real deal.
A traineeship prepares you for a certain role and focusses on both people and hard skills. To see if there is growth potential. At the end, if all goes well, you are offered a fixed position. The experience you gained opens all sorts of doors. 


Tinder the ship!

Interships are always in line with your studies. It is often very clear what to expect. Clear, well defined tasks and skills to focus on.
Traineeships exist in all shapes and forms. They can focus on a certain topic (data, supply chain, IT, …) or even a specific role. And sometimes, you even get the chance to try out totally different things. A traineeship should allow you to be part of the team. To have a real impact. To take up real responsibilities. Challenging assignments are part of the deal. Up to you to find your perfect match… Start swiping!


How long will it take?

An internship is often very short. Most of the time, your school coach and internal mentor pick some skills to focus on. You’ll develop these in a couple of weeks/months.
A traineeship will definitely take longer. Usually 1 to 3 years. Let’s face it… You don’t learn things like personal leadership, communication skills, or even a hard skill over night.

Welcome to the danger zone

A lot of organizations or companies offer traineeships / internships. All of them will use the most magnificent words to lure you in. But beware! There might be some hidden dangers. Here how to avoid the most important ones.

1. From Yuck! to Yeay!
As mentioned, traineeships exist in all different shapes and forms. The quality of traineeships can also vary a lot. Same thing goes for internships. It’s worthwhile to check if your traineeship/internship lives up to your expectations. You are promised challenging assignments and lots of responsibility? But you are only allowed to do some filing or carry the mail around. Run! (but in a respectful way of course 😉). Don’t hesitate to play dumb a bit and ask what kind of tasks/responsibility they will expect you to take up. And make them sweat! Challenge, dig deep! How will they invest in you? What are the trainings on offer?

2. Help me Obi Wan Kenobi!
A successful trainee/internship also depends on the quality of the mentorship. When you start as an intern, you need someone to guide you, teach you the tricks of the trade. As a trainee, you shouldn’t immediately be the end-responsible of a department or the only manager of a team.
Make sure you have a coach or mentor. Your own personal Obi Wan Kenobi. To guide you. To support you. To give you good, qualitative feedback. You deserve it! 

Our traineeships are definitely outside the dangerzone!

Ask it to every one of our trainees. Impact, responsibility and change, … Definitely words they are not afraid of. And we offer it. So you can become the best version of yourself.

And a mentor? Well, we have multiple specialized coaches that focus on the growth of our trainees. With tons of coaching and training. And for hot topics like data, change and IT. We have partners to support you.

“A traineeship. That is five years of growth in only two years time.”

Catherine Brems – Head of Human Resources