College is a great place for learning, but it’s also a great place for launching your career. Having an internship while you are in college can help you to understand what you want or don’t want to do post-graduation and give you the experience needed to get you hired. Whether it’s a paid or unpaid position (although let’s be real, everyone is hoping for a paid internship) internships are great for students to be able to “get their feet wet” in an actual workplace environment.
Here are a few reasons why you need to consider getting an internship:
- A Dose of Real-World Work Experience: Look, college is great and there are a ton of instructors who work incredibly hard to teach you in a way that will benefit your future. But at the end of the day, nothing beats hands-on experience. Internships allow you to see how the material in class works in the real world. Internships can help you put learning into practice and gives you perspective on where you might need to develop further skills.
- Know Your Career Path: Until you try something you’ll never 100% know if you love or hate it. Internships can let you see first-hand what you DON’T want to do for the rest of your life. This is a super underrated part of getting an internship. It’s hard to know what the job may demand from you if you don’t have experience within it. Having an internship may lead you to discover that you do not want to work in that field and want to change majors.
- Make Your Resume Shine: All recent graduates tend to face the same obstacle – do you have enough experience? A lot of companies want to make sure a recent graduate can handle the workload and “fit” into their company well. Having real career experience while attending school is an amazing way to accomplish this. Recruiters love seeing that you have some experience in the field and having an internship shows that you are able to handle multiple responsibilities as well as do great in school. It’s also true that many student interns get hired for full-time offers once they do a great job at their internship.
Once you get the internship, maximize your experience. An internship, in principle, is a limited-time offer. You need to maximize your experience in order to understand what this career expects of you when you start working full-time. Below are a few ways to do this:
- Ask Questions: Questions are vital to succeeding during an internship because you may not understand what is going on around you. Follow this 3-step rule to answering questions:
- Investigate on your own the task that you have to complete.
- Once you try to solve the problem on your own, ask your supervisor or manager for clarity or assistance. They know what you are supposed to do. If you come to them with thoughtful questions based upon your research they will be happy to answer them.
- Ask follow-up questions if you have any.
- Be Nice and Helpful: it sounds silly but having a good attitude can do wonders. Be someone people want to work with. It makes it that much easier for people to say “we have to hire so-and-so when they graduate”.
- Be Proactive: Be that person who always volunteers to go make copies or take notes. It may not seem like much, but you can learn more about the company. For example, you could volunteer to take notes at a meeting. This will give you access to both the meeting, insight into what’s going on, and face-time with all the key people involved.
- Have a Notebook with You at All Times: Take as many notes as your fingers will let you. Many new words and terminology will be thrown at you. You are expected to learn and understand them. Having a notebook handy will help you remember things.
An internship can be a very rewarding, beneficial experience. So don’t wait or hesitate, start looking for potential internships now.