The Differences Between Apprenticeship And Internship

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Written by BAC Apprentice: Yogadevi Gobi Krishnan

Today, upon getting their degrees, many fresh graduates will hunt for on-the-job trainings to get the industry experience before entering the job market. Such experiences and trainings will make a huge impact in their career development, increasing employability. Let’s face the truth, with a competitive job market, fresh graduates are often not the choice of big firms and hiring managers due to being inexperienced. Fresh graduates are given two choices, apprenticeship or internship program.  


There has always been a debate between what is an apprenticeship and internship program. This confusion is totally understandable as there are a few similarities between the two. Yet, these similarities have been outnumbered by the differences between them.  


Director and Research Professor of the Georgetown University Centre on Education and the Workforce, Anthony Carnevale said “The comparison between an internship and an apprenticeship is like comparing a row boat to a destroyer. 


Read on to get a better understanding of internship and apprenticeship: 



Apprenticeships are usually longer than Internships. An internship program most of the time only lasts for a few months with a maximum of a year placement whereas an apprenticeship will last between a year to 4 years. This depends on the industry and their hiring team. To be precise, an apprenticeship is long term qualification to learn the values of the company, while internship is short work experience to gain some knowledge in the related field.  



Most of us would pose the question – what do apprentices or interns do differently from the other? Well, in an internship program, usually there will be no clear structure as to what an intern will learn. They will touch every department in the industry or every type of work within the department to get the entry-level general experience of the relevant field.  

On the other hand, an apprenticeship program is well structured with a combination of on-site work experience and classroom-learning. For example, if the program is for a year, the apprentices will be given a structure or training plan of their program to let them know of what to expect within that one-year. Apart from that, in an apprenticeship program, apprentices will not only focus on general entry-level work experience, they will focus on mastering their skills to fill an occupation within this organisation or another. 


Educational Qualification  

There is a clear educational requirement in most of the hiring organisations. Internships can be applied by diploma students, college students, and undergraduates who are on their break, wanting to get an idea about the field related to the course they are pursuing or intend to pursue. On the other hand, to be able to join an Apprenticeship program, the applicant must have completed their undergraduate program or degree. In some instances, students who have completed their Diploma may also enrol themselves in this program.  



As fresh graduates we often do not have the leverage to negotiate our salary in this competitive job market. Same goes to interns and apprentices, as they are still looking for an opportunity to learn the basic skills and gain experiences. Internships usually get paid relatively less or not get paid at all. Most small to medium organisations do not pay their interns, but they would provide travel or miscellaneous allowance which will usually be not more than RM400-500. This is an advantage for those who are staying nearer to the work place. However, those who need to commute to work, will have to use their transport allowance. Apart from that, larger organisations pay their interns well, which sometimes can go up to RM1000.  

Apprenticeships are more heavily regulated and there will usually be a minimum wage within the organisation. Apprentices will be paid monthly and some organisations also include travel allowance. Apprentices with little to zero work background may expect a monthly income of RM1500 to 2000.  


Career Opportunity / Development  

An internship program does not guarantee a job mainly because of the short time period spent within the organisation. They are mostly project-based or entry level work introduction. Interns usually continue their studies or look for entry-level work to gain more specialised skills and experiences. However, there are high chances that an apprentice will get an offer for a permanent job in the same organisation after completing the program. Otherwise, the job experiences and the skills learned in the apprenticeship program open doors to a lot more job opportunities out there. 


Keeping all the differences in mind, it is important to note that both these training programs are important for students and fresh graduates. Most importantly, in these recent days, companies mostly prefer candidates who have relevant experience in field. These two programs lets you have the skills and knowledge on set despite the duration to fulfil some of the requirements by the employers.  


An internship background enables you to enter the industry more confidently, while as an apprentice, you have developed your career with a more competitive salary and position due to the specialised skills and knowledge attained in the program. 


On a final note, as said by the great Mahatma Ghandi, “Knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge”.  


So, grab any opportunity you can to gain as much experience to develop knowledge and skills in your desired field.