Benefits of Taking an Internship
You need a job to gain experience but, you need the experience to get a job! It’s the ultimate Catch 22, isn’t it? To get a job, you need the right mix of both the technical and soft skills needed to do the job. But soft skills aren’t typically developed in the classroom. So how can you acquire the skills you need in preparation for your first professional position after college? Through an internship (or two… or three)! In today’s workforce, an internship is the new entry-level job. Employers want to hire college grads who not only have the required education and training for the job, but relevant experience as well (whether gained through work, internships, or volunteerism).
6 Reasons to Take an Internship
- Helps you find your interests. Not only will you learn by doing in an environment where you are supervised by a professional, but you will also gain deeper insight into who you are and the types of work environments and tasks you enjoy most. This may be one of the most important reasons for an internship since you won’t truly know if the career field is the right fit for you until you gain some professional experience.
- Build and develop skills. Even if you already happen to have exceptional work habits and the soft skills employers expect to see on your resume, you’ll sharpen them and learn more technical skills also needed for the job by interacting with working professionals. In turn, you’ll become even more confident in your ability to land and succeed in your first professional position.
- Allows you to learn in a safe environment. What makes internship opportunities so valuable is that they offer the optimal experience to discover your professional strengths and weaknesses. When an intern makes a mistake, they can learn how to address it, and more importantly, move forward from it.
- Expand your professional network. Internships allow you to network with both new and seasoned professionals within your industry. From managers, mentors, co-workers, to strong professional bonds. The bottom line is you’ll make many new contacts, and some of these people could serve as references for future jobs.
- Allows you to earn college credits. Many colleges now offer academic credit for internships. A growing number of schools require you to complete one to graduate. Completing an internship through your university not only helps you obtain industry experience but also gets you closer to achieving your degree.
- Helps you land a job. Of course, any experience that is relevant to the types of post-college jobs you plan to apply for will strengthen your resume, internships help set you further apart from other candidates. Some companies will specifically look for candidates who have at least one internship on their resume while hiring. You can use your experience to highlight your qualifications in your resume, cover letter, and interviews. Internships are also valuable because they can help bridge your transition from academia to the workplace, making it a smoother switch.
There are many more benefits to taking an internship but remember that the experience is only as valuable as you make it out to be. You should always approach your internship, even if it’s unpaid like you would any other job. Approach every task with a positive, “can-do” attitude, no matter how challenging or mundane it may seem, and be mindful of the fact that the quality of your work and your interactions with others will affect how you are perceived by your managers and peers.
Lastly, be sure to start your internship search early. On average, employers with formal internship programs begin interviewing candidates eight months before the targeted start date.