Between school work, extracurricular activities, and a social life, you already have plenty to do. You might be wondering why some of your classmates are pursuing internships, or why they would want to work “for free”. What’s in it for them? Should you be more competitive, and seek your own internship opportunity?
As it turns out, that would probably be a good idea, for several reasons…
Test the waters. Before you commit four years (and thousands of dollars) to a particular college degree, wouldn’t it be a good idea to discover whether you actually enjoy working in that field? An internship will give you the chance to “try on” different jobs, and get a feel for your prospective work environments post-graduation. If you find that you don’t enjoy it, you still have time to change your major.
Boost your resume. Once you do obtain that degree, you will enter a competitive job market. Employers like to hire candidates who have already gained some professional experience in the field, and internships are a great way to fill out your resume.
Earn valuable references. Potential employers will also take a closer look at your references when considering whether to hire you. An internship will give you the opportunity to network with established professionals in the field, and form valuable connections. One day these people can be asked to provide a reference. They might even help you find the right position.
Extend your classroom learning to the real world. No matter how well you perform on tests and term papers, there’s nothing quite like hands-on experience. Internships give you the opportunity to translate “book knowledge” into real world applications.
As you can see, internships can provide valuable opportunities for both learning and connection. But many students do struggle with seeking these type of job situations, because you might also need a paying job to cover living expenses. If you’re considering an internship during your college years, check with your major department as well as the financial aid office. Sometimes you can earn class credits for internships, or even stipends to turn an unpaid opportunity into a paid one.