Internships are a great way to bridge the gap between academia and the real world. Despite the negative stereotypes, not all interns spend 8:00 - 5:00 fetching coffee and making copies; many interns obtain relevant experience in their fields of study and learn a great deal about post-graduation career possibilities.
The top five reasons to get an internship:
1. Explore your options.
Choosing a college major can be a difficult decision to make. Internships are a great way to explore different fields of interest before you choose and focus on one. Many students choose to intern more than once, trying different departments on for size without making a long-term commitment. Keep in mind, it’s much easier to head in a different direction now than it is when you’re further down the road.
2. Real-world experience.
Interning can provide you with a chance to combine what you’ve learned in the classroom with work experience in your field of interest. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, work experience ranks second on the list of personal characteristics employers look for in job candidates. As an intern, you can get an inside look at a real-life job, giving you an edge during job hunting. You also have the opportunity to practice interviewing skills and develop an understanding of the hiring process.
3. Paid positions or college credit.
Some colleges consider interning to be extremely important and allow students to earn college credit for the experience. There is also the possibility of finding a paid internship, which can be ideal for many college students seeking a part-time source of income.
4. Build your resumé or portfolio.
Employers love to see a resumé with internships on it and a portfolio with real-world examples. Set yourself apart from the competition.
Internships can offer you the chance to establish contacts in a field where you may be looking for employment after graduation. By completing an internship, you can develop credible references to aid in your job hunt. Knowing people in your field can be a huge asset to finding a career. As they say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” You can also prove yourself while interning and get hired on by the same company, which is fairly common. In fact, according to U.25 Magazine, 64 percent of college graduates are offered full-time jobs from the companies they’ve interned with!
Check out the career center at your school. See your advisor for suggestions. Attend job fairs. Ask around. There are a lot of internship opportunities - you just have to find them and apply!