Sandra Long | , , , , , ,| By
Thinking about getting an internship for next semester or summer? Internship experience is valued by employers and students for very good reasons. Here are eight of them:
Gain meaningful work experience
Students need to demonstrate real world experience beyond their academic achievement upon their graduation. An internship is an excellent and popular way to do so. This includes participating in meaningful “meaty” projects where students are able to apply their college level analytical, quantitative and communication skills. It also means learning how to interact effectively in a work environment with other employees and a manager.
Develop and build skills
On the job internship experiences often include learning new skills. It may be a specific skill like learning how to use a new software application. Soft skills from the workplace such as communications and organization skills are also developed. Challenge yourself to apply classroom learning to the workplace and vice versa.
Opportunity to add college credits or international experience
Some internships are tied to specific classes, assignments, academic majors or even study abroad programs. Your four years allow for multiple types of experiences. Ask the Career Services department at your school about college credit policies. To find international internship opportunities that may be connected to your university, ask your study abroad department, Career Services or your academic advisor. If there isn’t a formal program, try to connect with recent alumni that are overseas.
Learn about yourself
An internship is an opportunity to learn what you like and don’t like. Marketing or sales? Finance or accounting? Large company or small? Corporate HQ or branch sales office? City job with a train commute or suburban drive? Find out what drives you and excites you about work.
Expand your professional network
An intern will easily be able to expand their professional network while working at a company, nonprofit or government agency. The contacts will include coworkers, customers, vendors, partners and other interns. Students are often invited to attend events during their internship that can lead to new connections. Your goal is to turn your new internship contacts into lifelong professional relationships.
Recommendations and referrals
Students will be able to demonstrate their skills and work ethic to their supervisor and other company employees. These work experiences become opportunities for excellent references, referrals and recommendations. Impress your hiring manager throughout your internship and then always remember to ask for a recommendation at the end!
Learn more about a company, field or industry
An internship provides first hand views and experiences within a specific company, field and industry. Students who can participate in a few different internships during college are putting themselves at a distinct advantage. Start early so you can take the time to try several work environments.
Increase odds of a job offer at graduation
Approximately 60 percent of 2012 college graduates who took part in paid internships received at least one job offer, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers ( NACE 2012 Student Survey). Now students want to do multiple internships to position themselves for a successful transition out of college into the workforce.
In addition to students and employers, career experts from US colleges and universities wholeheartedly agree. “Internships are in reality today’s entry level jobs and therefore imperative before and after commencement.” says Burt Nadler, Assistant Dean and Career Center Director at the University of Rochester.
What’s your top reason to pursue an internship?