Why Is an Internship Important? 12 Reasons To Consider

Updated June 9, 2023

A group of four people stand around one person who points to a diagram on a wall.

Gaining industry experience has significant benefits, whether you're in high school, college or entering the workforce. Completing an internship is often an effective way to encourage your professional growth, and there are often some available based on your education level and desired career path. Learning what makes internships beneficial may help you better understand the professional impact they may have.

In this article, we explain why internships are important and list the potential benefits of completing an internship.

Why is an internship important?

An internship is important because it can present you with new skills and opportunities that you may not receive otherwise. Interns gain technical knowledge within the industry of their choice by working directly with professionals in that field.

This allows you to apply practical knowledge you may have learned from a classroom setting while you develop important soft skills, such as time management, organization, adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork.

Related: What Is the Purpose of an Internship? (Plus Tips)

12 benefits of internships

Some potential benefits of internships that make them important include:

1. Tests industry knowledge

While classroom learning is important, internships allow you to apply what you learned in a practical setting. This helps prepare you for tasks you may complete once you begin your career.

For example, a student learns about business writing in a course for their communication major. They use what they learned about email etiquette to write clear and concise email memos during their time as an internal communications intern.

Related: 10 Ways To Get the Most From Your Internship

2. Helps you determine your interests

Some degree programs are broad, and it may be difficult to identify the specific career you want to pursue. Completing an internship allows you to explore different career areas to help you learn more about your interests to make effective decisions about your career.

For example, a student may envision themselves as an elementary school teacher because they love working with kids and begin a short internship. However, they learn they prefer caring for the children rather than teaching them, motivating them to pursue a different career with kids.

3. Creates new interests

Internships don't always relate directly to your desired career field. Pursuing internships in adjacent fields may help you develop transferable skills, learn about new interests or reaffirm your preferred career path. For example, a public relations student may complete an operations internship with a local sports team to develop their event organization skills.

Related: 9 Ways To Build an Effective College Network

4. Connects you with industry professionals

Internships allow you to network with both new and experienced professionals within your industry. If your internship location has other interns working for them, this is an excellent opportunity to make professional bonds with one another. Further, into your professional career, you can help one another obtain positions or get recommended for opportunities at your companies.

5. Allows you to learn in a safe environment

Internships create a safe environment for learning and growing as a professional. Many interns work closely with mentors, allowing them to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses as they begin their professional career.

This also is helpful for creating learning opportunities if the intern makes a mistake because it ensures they understand what went wrong and how to fix it, making them a prepared professional in their career.

6. Allows you to get paid to learn

Many organizations offer paid internships. While earnings may vary and are often less than what regular employees may earn, this allows you to earn money while gaining entry-level experience. This may also be helpful for allowing you to focus on your studies and internship will still being able to support yourself financially.

Read more: Paid vs. Unpaid Internships: What's the Difference?

7. Provides possible credit for your college degree

Many colleges, especially within particular majors or concentrations, require students to complete an internship before they graduate. This is helpful for supplementing what you learned in the classroom.

Many internships, particularly unpaid internships, often provide college credit to compensate you for your work. However, it's important to work closely with your school's internship coordinator or your academic advisor to ensure your chosen internship satisfies the necessary requirements.

8. Potentially qualifies you to gain more internship opportunities

Completing an internship provides helpful professional experience, which may be helpful for completing additional internships. It may also be possible to return to your original internship to complete another session. Continuing to pursue these opportunities helps demonstrate your qualifications and your commitment to developing your professional knowledge.

Read more: How To Get an Internship

9. Creates a unique travel experience

Depending on the program you choose, an internship may allow you to travel to and live in a different place. Some international businesses even offer unique programs that allow you to gain industry experience while learning about different cultures. Living in a different area, whether domestically or internationally, may help you become more independent and have a better understanding of other people.

Related: How To Get Jobs Abroad

10. Inspires you to learn more about an industry

Internships allow you to work directly within an industry so you can learn more about it. This may inspire you to become more passionate about that particular industry or even a specific job. It may be particularly helpful for high school students who are unsure what they want to do after graduation to complete so they have an introduction to certain industries, helping them identify what a good major or career may be for them.

Read more: Internships for Teenagers: 15 Opportunities To Explore

11. Teaches you about the importance of work-life balance

Adapting to professional life after college requires some adjustment, but an internship may help with this experience. Internships in traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. settings teach you what it's like to work for a majority of the day and balance your personal activities outside of these hours. This may help you develop time managements skills and understand the importance of establishing boundaries in your career for a healthy work-life balance.

Related: How To Succeed in Your First Job After College in 7 Steps

12. Introduces you to office dynamics

Interning in an office environment is the perfect place to observe office politics and learn how to approach them. Office politics include components such as office gossip, general attitudes and behaviors or the hierarchy of authority. Learning about general workplace culture can teach you how to maintain good relationships with future peers and how to communicate effectively with upper management to make changes or ask for guidance.

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