Nowadays, people seem to get internships in college just because they’re told they should. However, there are plenty of reasons why it’s a good idea to get an internship before you graduate.
1. Put professional experience on your resume
College is the intermediate step between the part-time high school jobs and a full fledged career, so you should make sure that you gain the necessary experience along the way. Since your high school employment history filled with babysitting and working minimum wage part time jobs won’t impress a recruiter looking to fill a full-time position, get more professional experience to include in your resume.
2. Show you have ambition
If you’re working full-time at an internship while everyone else is lounging on the beach, you’ve gained a competitive advantage. By giving up your summers to learn new skills and gain experience, you’re proving that you’re ambitious and ready for a career.
No matter how small the company, you’re going to meet people interested in the same things you are and already working in the industry you might want to join. That’s what makes an internship a great place to network. Many people find jobs and opportunities through the people they have met, so meeting your co-workers and having them as contacts could open a lot of new doors.
4. Make new friends
People often overlook the social benefits of doing an internship. Your coworkers often become close friends that you go out to lunch with, attend company events, and have over for dinner every once in a while. Making friends that are going through the same challenges you are can be very rewarding as well. You can support and encourage each other to continue to pursue the career you want.
5. Make money
While most internships pay little or no money, you can still make thousands of dollars during your summer. For example, if you work at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for 40 hours a week for 12 weeks, you’ll make $3,480 before taxes.
6. Learn what you like
Think you want to work in a certain industry? Get an internship in it! For a short three months, you can plunge into a career that you’re interested in and get a real honest look at what that career might look like. You can take all the classes on the subject you want, but you won’t be able to truly learn if it’s right for you. Once you try it, you might find that it’s exactly what you’re looking for.
7. Learn what you don’t like
On the other hand, you might learn that the career you’re previewing is not right for you. What you imagined the career would be isn’t what you’re getting in the internship. While some of the aspects you don’t like could be because of the certain company, you’ll be able to see if the core parts of the job don’t fit what you’re looking for. After all, it’s better to find out that you don’t like a job during a short three month internship than once you get a permanent position after graduation.
8. Learn new skills
You can learn a lot about an industry through school, but there is also a lot you won’t be able to learn just by sitting in a classroom. Diving into the professional world and completing an internship gives you relevant, real world experience that can set you apart from the other candidates. You can learn the actual skills it takes to succeed in a career, making you a more attractive candidate in the future.
9. Find a mentor
If a company provides an internship, then they want to invest in the education and learning experience of students. That means that your coworkers and managers are probably interested in your own learning too. By working over the summer, they already know that you’re ambitious, you’re interested in their industry, are eager to learn new things, and that you need guidance because you’re new. Try talking to your coworkers and boss about your interests and career goals and see if anyone is willing to be your mentor. A good mentor can be an invaluable resource. They can help you learn the skills you need and find you great opportunities to advance your career.
10. Turn it into a full time offer
Your success in an internship can often lead to being offered a full time position in the company. During your internship, the company learned a lot about you. They learned about your work ethic, commitment, skills, and other characteristics that they couldn’t have learned without working directly with you. Since they’ve seen what you can do, the company is more likely to offer you a full time position than someone outside the organization with similar credentials. It’s also a plus for you because you don’t have to go through the job search, the interview process, or entry level training.
Even if you don’t get a full time offer at the end of your internship, your experiences have given you qualifications to flaunt when you apply for other job offers.
Photo credit to Visha Angelova