An internship is a good introduction to the career you may want to pursue. Internships are typically arranged through an educational counselor who can help match you to a company that fits your career goals. Because companies typically have to meet educational requirements for internships, you might be exposed to many aspects of a company’s business to help you explore the work you intend to pursue full time. In this article, we discuss 10 important benefits of doing an internship.
What is an internship?
An internship is a hired introductory position for a defined period. They can be paid or unpaid, as the main purpose is for the intern to gain experience. You typically apply for an internship during undergraduate or graduate studies in your chosen field, and then work for a company for one or more months, either full-time or part-time. You might work as an intern over a summer or during a semester or quarter with your classes. Some internships allow you to receive college credit upon completion.
Internships can help you gain valuable work experience, fulfill a college requirement and give you material to add to your resume. They can introduce you to many aspects of full-time employment while allowing you to explore your interests and form your personal career goals.
Related: Writing a Resume With No Experience
Benefits of internships
As you finish your college education and embark on your chosen career path, consider how an internship may help you narrow your focus and help train you for future jobs. Here are some advantages of internships for students:
1. Job experience
Job listings often describe requirements such as education and minimum job experience. If you are entering the workforce for the first time after college or a vocational training program, you likely do not yet have the required experience. An internship is a perfect way to fill that gap. You can gain valuable exposure to how a business in your chosen field runs, take part in meetings and perform assigned tasks in a real-world setting.
2. Research experience
In scientific fields, for example, an internship might consist of assisting with research in a lab. You can test the research skills you learned in your college courses in a practical setting and meaningfully contribute to the important research the lab does. Some permanent research jobs require this kind of post-education training. Internship opportunities can help you decide what kind of lab work you would like to do.
3. Access to a variety of tasks and departments
While some internships, like lab research, might assign you to a specific task every day, other offices might enable exposure to people in various departments and jobs. You may help senior management, sit in on meetings, complete small tasks for projects or observe the daily functions of the office. If your field of study was general, like a B.A. in English, for example, an internship at a publishing company where you see how each department works could help you decide what kind of job in the publishing industry you might like to pursue.
The most valuable mentor relationships often start with a personal connection that enhances the experience for both the mentor and the mentee. Working as an intern may allow you to meet a potential mentor naturally and establish a relationship that helps guide your career path.
In-person, you have the chance to reveal your personality and show deference and respect while seeking guidance and input. An internship can create a situation where your relationship develops organically, even if you end up working elsewhere in a full-time position.
Related: How to Find a Mentor
5. Help guide career goals
During your education, you may study a variety of subjects to determine your interests. For some, a college degree helps you determine exactly what kind of career you want to have. For others, studying offers a diverse set of experiences that presents multiple career options. An internship can give you job experience by introducing you to daily rigors and tasks without a firm commitment to that precise career track. It can help you decide if certain jobs fit your personality and your talents and allow you to meet people who can give you career advice and guidance.
6. Create a professional network
The most successful job searching usually comes from meeting others in your field who can recommend you for open positions. Internships are a practical way to expand your job network. The professionals you will meet might be the most valuable connection to your future jobs, so showing curiosity, enthusiasm and willingness can help professional contacts see your potential.
7. Build a strong resume
This valuable job experience enables you to fill out your resume with honesty and specificity. Not only will you be able to add the duties and projects from your internship to the experience section of your resume, but you will also be able to more clearly describe your objective for a permanent position.
8. Secure good references and recommendations
The supervisors and mentors you meet during your internship can be a valuable reference for you as you pursue a full-time job. The more positive and hardworking you are, the more likely managers are willing to recommend you for open positions. References generated from an internship can be valuable in your job searches because those managers will have known you personally and seen how you contributed to the company. They can speak to specifics and describe your developing skills and how your education prepares you for employment.
9. Transition to a permanent job
If your internship is a positive experience for you and the people you work for, you could be hired for a permanent position at the company. Hiring managers often use internships as an interview process to determine which interns would be a good fit for open positions.
Internships can act as preliminary employment training, and human resources personnel and managers can observe you in various situations to determine if you might be a valuable addition to a team. It reduces some stress you might face in looking for a job without making internship contacts. Even if that company does not have an available permanent position, you can still move on with contacts and mentors in your field.
10. Build confidence
The transition from college to full-time employment can fill you with excitement, anxiety, hope and ambition all at once. An internship is a good way to fill some transition time with the work you hope to do long-term. It can eliminate some pressure of quickly finding a permanent job and help you apply the skills and knowledge you have been studying into a practical situation.
Internships can show you how a company develops leaders rather than just learning about it in the abstract. You can observe excellent time management skills and make a note of those you want to emulate. You may learn about valuable collaboration and cooperation skills. If you think of an internship as an extension of your education, you are likely to have a whole range of confidence-building attributes to apply to your future employment.