Updating Results

Management training programs vs. internships: What's the difference?

Sam Wong

Team Prosple
When looking for value-adding work experience straight out of university, it’s key to understand what roles a management trainee and an intern fulfil. 

Graduates may be confused as to what separates a management training program from an internship. While they both foster growth, they’re different and similar in many ways.

When looking for value-adding work experience straight out of university, it’s key to understand what roles a management trainee and an intern fulfil. 

Both programs are designed with specific end goals in mind. 

What is a management trainee program?

A management training program is an extensive training program designed for self-motivated graduates to explore various departments within a certain company. 

It aims to prepare young leaders for future management roles by familiarising them with the ins and outs of an organisation. More often than not, these opportunities are usually offered to fresh graduates or young professionals.

While management training programs have been around for some time, some students fresh out of university are curious about the process of applying to them.

What is an internship?

An internship is a short-term on-the-job training program usually accomplished for work experience and personal development.

Internships are usually made available to university students for entry-level exposure, but these opportunities can also be open to fresh graduates looking to dip their toes into value-adding work.

Management training program vs. internships: where they differ

Management training programs and internships are designed in different ways:

Management Training Programs


Management trainees are hired to fulfil a specific role

Interns gain on-the-job training

Management trainees take on full-time roles

Interns can be a part-time or full-time role

The program can last 6 to 24 months

An internship can last 2-12 months

Management trainees work with multiple departments

Interns train within a specific department

Management trainees focused on honing leadership skills 

Interns focused on honing specialised and technical skills

Management trainees have a fixed salary

Interns may have a stipend/allowance

Management trainees are usually entitled to full-time employee benefits

Interns may enjoy some of the benefits a full-time employee does

Open to fresh graduates or degree holders

Open to students and fresh graduates

Employers usually invest more resources for management training programs (e.g. career consultants, career coaches)

Fewer resources are expended for internships, training is supplemented elsewhere (e.g. shadowing officers, being assigned operational tasks)

Management trainees are guaranteed a management position after x months/years upon completion of programs

Interns may be absorbed as a full-time employee at the company's discretion

Most of these distinctions are self-explanatory. However, what draws the line between the two can be confusing at times.

While there are stark differences between how both programs are planned, there are some key similarities (which may be why students and graduates confuse the two).

Management training program and internships: key similarities

Both programs have binding contracts with the employer or company

Either program entails entering an agreement with their respective employer. Regardless of their roles, contracts are placed to protect both parties.

Whether it is a management trainee locked into a training program or an intern fulfilling their required number of hours, they must have the terms and conditions bound in writing.

Both programs are geared towards career growth and development

Management training programs and internships are created with growth and development in mind. Internships are often referred to as on-the-job training, while management trainees undergo literal training programs.

Management trainees and interns usually have immediate supervisors or career coaches that oversee their progress for the duration of the program. These are usually done through 1-on-1 sessions, personal development plans, and weekly evaluations.

Both programs provide relevant entry-level exposure

As both programs are usually open to students and fresh graduates, these provide excellent opportunities for relevant entry-level exposure.

Internships are great for exposure to specific departments and specialisations, while management training programs are ideal for exposure to interdepartmental functions and managerial experience. 

Both programs entail worthwhile work experience that can be added to a CV or resume

Management training programs and internships look great on a CV. 

Listing either on a resume implies that the student or graduate is hardworking, eager to learn, and able to handle responsibility.

Both programs are good sources for networking

Besides worthwhile work experience and entry-level exposure, both programs are amazing opportunities to make connections.

Immediate supervisors, co-workers, and bosses immediately become essential parts of a trainee or graduate’s network. 

Provided that the trainee or graduate does their work well, they are guaranteed good references or even opportunities for higher-level work.


Both programs are different and similar in many ways. When it comes to choosing between the two, it boils down to the student or graduate’s end goal.

Is the end goal to land a management position in a specific industry? Or is it to attain a higher-level position in specialisation or department?

Narrowing down what that is can be the deciding factor between these two career paths. The best way to do that is by exploring available internships and management programs on Prosple search job page.