8 Reasons to Intern While in College
As a person that used to be an intern here at the agency and is now a full time employee, I wanted to share some of my thinking as to why internships are so important.
When you hear the word college, you probably think of homework, essays, beer, and ramen. However, you’re missing one important thing: internships! Internships should be a part of every college student’s life, and I’m going to tell you why you simply can’t afford to leave school without one. Here are eight reasons why you need an internship in college:
- To test drive your career
- To earn something of value
- To transition to the real world
- To get more out of your coursework
- To gain hands-on experience
- To beef up your resume
- To build your professional network
- To land a full-time job
1. To Test Drive Your Career
You might have your whole career path lined out perfectly, but you can never be sure that it’s the right choice for you unless you try it out. Internships allow you to do just that. You’ll be able to find out exactly what it’s like to work in the industry of your choice, day-to-day (hint: it’s usually not what you see on TV or read about in books). You’ll also learn if you prefer a structured or flexible work environment, if you like working at a small, mid-sized, or large company, and what type of work culture you thrive in. If you end up disliking everything about your internship, at least you learned that before you committed to a permanent position!
2. To Earn Something of Value
All internships are a little different in terms of their compensation. Some offer a stipend at the conclusion of your program, which can come in handy for next semester’s tuition costs. Other companies offer an hourly wage to their interns, so you can take home a paycheck just like you would at a regular part-time job. Additionally, some internships can earn you course credit, so be sure to talk to your academic counselor about the program requirements at your college. Even if your internship offers none of the above, as long as you are gaining valuable knowledge and experience, the investment in your future can be well worth it.
3. To Transition to the Real World
Going straight from college to the real world can be a daunting thought, but internships can help you ease into this transition. Instead of late nights, you’ll get used to early mornings. Instead of procrastinating on assignments, multitasking will become second nature. You’ll also learn the ins-and-outs of a professional work environment, including email and phone etiquette, how to behave in meetings, and proper business dress code. Additionally, you’ll strengthen your teamwork, time management, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are all much-needed in the workplace.
4. To Get More Out of Your Coursework
So you’ve read countless textbooks, taken vigorous notes during lectures, and written detailed papers about your chosen career. But does that mean you actually know how to apply these concepts in the field? Having an internship can help you make the abstract principles you learn in the classroom more concrete. Not only will you do better on your exams with your internship duties tying into your coursework, but your education will become more enriched and meaningful because you’re applying your knowledge to authentic industry situations.
5. To Gain Hands-On Experience
You are never going to get hands-on experience within the four walls of a classroom; this knowledge can only come from diving headfirst into an internship. Jargon that was once foreign will become a part of your vocabulary, and industry-specific skills you didn’t know you needed will be developed. You’ll work on real projects for real clients (which you can add to your portfolio), and interact with real teams in the process. Your internship could also provide you with experiences you wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to; such as going behind the scenes at a sporting event, news station, or client’s charity gala (like mine did)! All of these hands-on experiences prepare you to enter your field of choice with confidence and familiarity.
6. To Beef Up Your Resume
In today’s competitive job market, having a stellar GPA listed on your resume just doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to stand out from the recently graduated masses, and the best way to do this is with an internship (the more internships, the better)! An internship will give you a major edge over your non-intern peers in the hiring process, because it shows you have firsthand knowledge, a go-getter attitude, and are ready to jump right in. In fact, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, internships are at the top of employers’ wish lists when evaluating graduates for hire, making them a fundamental addition to your resume, and crucial to landing that coveted job.
7. To Build Your Professional Network
The saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” can have a kernel of truth to it at times. Establishing relationships with your supervisor, other employees, clients, business partners, and fellow interns can really pay off; you never know who could play an instrumental role in your career path. Building rapport with these individuals could lead to them serving as a reference during your job search, alerting you to new opportunities in the industry, or even putting in a good word for you before an important interview. Your internship enables you to meet a variety of people and form your professional network; any of these connections could help you get your foot in the door at your dream job.
8. To Land A Full-Time Job
“To get a job I need experience, but to get experience I need a job!” Sound familiar? Well, getting an internship puts a stop to this never-ending catch-22. Employers don’t expect their interns to have previous work experience, but once they emerge from an internship program… presto! They have the relevant work background that hiring managers yearn for. Not only will your chances of landing a full-time job after graduation increase, but some employers use internships specifically to screen for potential full-time candidates, meaning that your internship could lead directly to a job offer. According to SALT, 61.2% of employers end up offering full-time positions to their interns. Here at Zion & Zion, 12 interns have joined the team so far (I’m one of them)!
As you can see, internships aren’t just important; they’re critical to your post-college future. Do you think you’re ready for the challenge? Check out Zion & Zion’s open positions and apply for a life-changing internship today!