The Importance of an Internship
1. Your college/university likely requires an internship if you want to graduate.
Most majors require you to successfully complete an internship in your field as a degree requirement. With that being said, you don’t really have a choice but to land an internship if you want to graduate. On the plus side, knowing this ahead of time can make it a lot easier to plan your course load each semester. Taking one less class or two during a full semester so that you can complete your internship during the school year is a very common thing to do, or if you would rather take the summer to knock out an internship, that’s an option too. Regardless of when you decide to be an intern, start looking and applying for internships months in advance. It can be a lengthy process, and the sooner your get a jump on it, the easier it will be.
2. An internship can act as a “test-run” for a real-world job.
Have you always wanted to be a television anchor but you aren’t sure if you would like it or be any good at it? Intern at a news station and take a test-run. Not only do internships give you the inside scoop on how companies and organizations truly run, but you get to be a part of it and see how you really like it. A lot of jobs seem glamorous on the surface but are actually a lot more work than you thought or aren’t as fun or as challenging. Taking an internship at a place that you could see yourself working is a great gauge for you to identify your strengths and weaknesses for the type of work you would be doing, and it also gives you a chance to confirm that you know what you want to do, and will be happy doing it.
3. You will gain real-world skills and experience that you can’t get from a book.
You can only teach so much and learn so much from a classroom setting. Part of the reason many colleges and universities require you to intern is so that you can get a valuable real-world experience. Class work, assignments, and projects only mean so much to you when they are just for a grade. When your job or your pay depends on you completing a task, and completing it to a certain standard, the kind of effort you put in can be entirely different. Of course, you should apply yourself to your studies the same you would at a real job, but we can all agree that your teacher shaking their head at you doesn’t quite light the fire under you like a boss threatening your job. Interning puts a kind of pressure on you in a good way that allows you to think critically under any kind of circumstance.
4. You get a professional reference for your future job applications.
After graduation when you endure the widely feared job search, you will almost always have to provide multiple references on your applications. Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone other than your boss from your high school job, Aunt Susie, and your old sports coach to put down? Having a professional reference on your job application not only tells your potential employer that you’ve got some experience at a real company, but that you’re good enough and work hard enough to earn the right to have the reference from them. That also means it’s that much more important to make a good impression and to do your best while you are interning, otherwise you could already have a not so great reputation in the job market that you are trying to enter.
5. You have a potential job offer with the company you intern for.
Many students receive job offers from the company that they chose to intern for if they prove themselves to be a good employee and a hard worker. That’s why you should intern at a place that you could see a future for yourself in, and why you shouldn’t pick a place to intern just to simply fill the requirement. You are only hurting yourself and limiting yourself if you don’t apply yourself and put in true effort for your internship if it’s a place you aren’t interested in working in the future, or at least the kind of place that is similar to the atmosphere and other factors you are aiming for.
Although it might be a bit overwhelming to have an internship with everything else going on during your college years, it is something you should absolutely consider to add to your resume. The experience alone is something that can set you apart when applying for your first job, and the skills you are bound to acquire will be helpful in many ways outside of the office. Visit your advisor or student success center to get all the information you need on interning in your area.