Gaining industry experience has significant benefits whether you are in high school, college or entering into the workforce. Regardless of your current education level or desired career path, an internship can encourage your professional growth.
By reviewing the following benefits of internships, you can determine whether or not it is something you want to pursue. In this article, we define why internships are important before delving into the topic more in-depth, with 12 reasons why an internship is essential.
Why is an internship important?
An internship is important because it can present you with new skills and opportunities that you would not receive otherwise. Interns not only gain technical knowledge within the industry of their choice, but they also learn how to interact with professionals in a workplace setting, and develop essential soft skills like time management, organization, adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork.
12 reasons why internships are beneficial
Here are 12 reasons that expand on why an internship is essential to your personal and professional development:
- Tests industry knowledge
- Helps you figure out your interests
- Creates new interests
- Connects you to industry professionals
- Allows you to learn in a safe environment
- allows you to get paid to learn
- Provides possible credit for your college degree
- Allows you to potentially gain more internship opportunities
- Creates a unique travel experience
- Inspires you to learn more about an industry
- Teaches you about the importance of work-life balance
- Introduces you to office politics
1. Tests industry knowledge
Learning in a classroom setting can only do so much. At a certain point, you need to apply what you have learned to a real-world situation. 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.
2. Helps you figure out your interests
You might think you know the career you want, but you won't know it is the right fit until you gain professional experience. This is one reason why internships are so important when deciding on a career. For example, you might envision yourself as an elementary school teacher, but after completing a two-week internship, you realize you enjoy caring for your students more than trying to teach them a lesson plan. This helps you determine that you want to pursue pediatric nursing.
3. Creates new interests
Internships do not always have to relate to your desired field. If you wish to pursue a career in nursing but also have a fascination with special needs teaching, for example, consider exploring that area further. By taking part in a special needs internship or volunteer opportunity, you might discover a new interest of yours, and with it, an original career path to pursue.
4. Connects you to industry professionals
Internships allow you to network with both new and seasoned 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
One reason why internships are valuable is because they offer the optimal experience for the discovery of your professional strengths and weaknesses. When an intern makes a mistake at their internship, they can learn how to address it, but more importantly, move forward from it.
6. Allows you to get paid to learn
While not all internship opportunities offer paid placement, many provide pay along with valuable entry-level experience. These programs might have specific skill requirements for applicants because they come with hourly pay.
Getting a paid internship can also bode well for you with future employers, as this experience highlights how your skill level contributed to you receiving a paid internship opportunity.
7. Provides possible credit for your college degree
Some colleges and, more specifically, majors or concentrations, might require students to complete an internship to count as a course on their transcript. Completing an internship for your university can help you not only obtain industry experience but also get closer to achieving your degree.
8. Allows you to potentially gain more internship opportunities
Completing one internship can be a great way to obtain another later on. Your previous internship sponsor might ask you to return for another internship, or you can use your experience to highlight your qualifications in your resume, cover letter and any additional internship interviews.
Regardless, previous internship experience helps you demonstrate during your next opportunity that you are committed to gaining professional knowledge and you have gained the expertise to help you in the position.
9. Creates a unique travel experience
Internships can also create a unique and exciting opportunity for young professionals to travel. An international position helps interns not only gain industry experience but also learn more about a different culture, explore their new location or practice language skills while they complete their internship.
10. Inspires you to learn more about an industry
The right internship can inspire you to be more passionate about your desired job title and industry. This allows you to decide what you want to major in while in college or explore other potential career paths within your preferred industry. Similarly, you can gain industry knowledge by obtaining certifications that help you advance your skill set.
11. Teaches you about the importance of work-life balance
When you attend college, you might have a unique schedule that allows you to work out, take a nap or meet with others between classes. However, the typical office job makes for a very different schedule. By completing an internship, you can learn more about how to prioritize tasks such as exercising, socializing or completing chores before and after your workday.
This helps you develop your time management skills, as your new schedule makes you think more about how to structure your daily routine around office hours.
12. Introduces you to office politics
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 order of authority. Learning about general workplace culture can teach you how to maintain good relationships with future coworkers and how to communicate effectively with upper management to make changes or ask for guidance.