Why bother with internships?
Many students might think it makes more sense to wait until after finishing college to work on their career. After all, they are already carrying a full course load and they can make photocopies on their own time, right?
So again, why bother?
Because internships offer huge advantages to the students who choose to pursue them!
- A head start in their career.
- A minimization of future underemployment.
- Academic credit or a paycheck.
- A stronger résumé.
- Letters of recommendation.
- Professional contacts.
- Work Experience!
When looking for a job, work experience matters! If you know what you are planning to do when you graduate, why not get a head start and test the waters? If nothing else, you'll get a better idea of what you are, and are not, interested in.
Underemployment, being employed in a job that does not accurately represent your skills or degree, is a major concern for many graduates. By preparing yourself with work experience through an internship you are giving yourself a distinct edge over others applying for the same job. Likewise, résumé building is a lifelong process, and filling your résumé with relevant skills and work experience is crucial to finding a job in the field you want.
Many internships are paid, but the simple truth is that some are not. You might balk at the idea of working for nothing, but most internships can apply credit towards your degree! Sometimes you can even get paid and get credit for the same internship.
The people we meet in our professional lives are resources, just as we are resources for them. Oftentimes the difference between one hire and another is a degree of separation, someone you know or a handshake at a conference or meeting. The larger your social network, the more opportunities you have. Similarly, students need letters of recommendation for job applications, scholarships, competitive programs, and graduate school. Having those letters from professionals looks great, and can make the difference between getting a second look and being passed over.
Finally, work experience! It can't be stressed enough how important it is to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and commitment required to have a job before you have that job. Without experience and references you're a gamble, which is the last thing you want your potential employer to think when deciding whether or not to hire you.