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Differences between an internship and a traineeship

Publication date: 07.02.2024

The terms “intern” and “trainee” are sometimes used interchangeably by some people. Indeed, both allow individuals (generally students) to acquire professional skills and experience. However, understanding their differences is crucial for them, for the company and for the educational system. Let’s take a look at all the major differences to know about internship and traineeship. 

Different jobs for different goals

Internship and traineeship: addressed to whom? 

Internship is generally designed for students who want to gain practical experience related to the subject of their studies while pursuing these studies. Interns often have no diploma as it is a part of their curriculum.  On the other hand, a traineeship is usually intended for (recent) graduates who want to specialize professionally in a specific topic or role. 

Different jobs for different goals

On the one hand, an internship allows one to gain work experience and learn skills and knowledge needed to begin a career. On the other hand, a  traineeship helps them develop skills, see how the organization works and contribute to the daily activity of it. So, as you can see there is a significant difference between them.

Involvement within the organization

Interns might have less involvement in the company as they focus on hard skills. That’s why they mainly work under the supervision of a more experienced employee.  Yet a trainee has to focus on both people and hard skills. Therefore, trainees can help improve operations of the organization and have more responsibilities

About the future

The main goal of an internship is to learn new skills that can be valuable on the CV. Yet this isn’t a program designed to lead to a fixed position within the organization. In fact, in most cases, companies analyze the growth potential of trainees to offer them a job at the end of the contract. This way, they give a possibility to evolve in a career within the company.

Application procedure and contract specificities

As internships mainly aim to help students acquire practical experience and knowledge, there is less emphasis on finding the “perfect” profile. The application procedure usually consists in a CV and a cover letter that might lead to an interview with the internship supervisor. For traineeships, the procedure might be longer and more formal, as the organization is looking for specific skills and a future potential job position within it. This means that candidates might go through several interviews with different people.


An internship often lasts from a few weeks to a few months (generally 2 to 6 months) as most interns are still following their studies to be graduated. A traineeship is most of the time longer from a few months to several years (mostly between 6 months and 2 years). This is because the organization will potentially offer a fixed job to the trainee at the end of the contract. Indeed, traineeships are offered by larger companies. 


, internships are usually unpaid

Finally, internships are usually unpaid or paid a modest internship fee whereas traineeships are paid, usually with an entry-level salary. 

Choosing between an internship or a traineeship

With all these differences in mind, simple questions can help to find what correspond the best to the career goals of individuals. For example, if they need professional experience before getting a job offered, then an internship is more suitable. However, if they need to earn money right away, traineeship is more suited. Paying attention to the different opportunities they offer is the best way to choose what corresponds to your profile. 

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