We all hear that internships are a good idea, sometimes they are even required of us, but why are they so important, what do they have to offer and what do you do if you are already out of college?
One thing to keep in mind is that there are two different types of internships: experiential and academic. Experiential is strictly for experience purposes. These internships are not for credit, but instead give you an inside look at what it would be like to be in your field of interest in a real world atmosphere. Internships that are for academic credit, are just what they sound like, you get credit for so many course hours based on how long your internship is. Many times with this type of internship one must complete a paper or portfolio concerning the work that they have done.
Another great benefit of an internship is the ability to network with people in your field of interest. Making connections is a key part of being successful in finding a job at any point in your life. When networking, you may work with people who could write you a letter of recommendation or be a reference for a future position. Many employers look for a wide variety of references, not just from professors or a short summer job.
It has been proven that students with internship experience, whether experiential or for credit, usually receive more job offers with higher pay, than those students who do not. Thus it is a good idea, whether it is required of you or not, to do at least one internship.
Internships are the most useful because of one specific reason: the on-site, field experience that you will get from seeing the action. There is only so much you can learn about your field in the classroom and from reading a textbook without actually seeing how it is done in real life. Also, it gives you a look into whether this is what you really want to do. You may think that you have an idea of where you are going, moving forward, but may find that once you are actually in that environment that you don’t really care for it. Better to figure this out early on, rather than waiting until you are actually searching for a job or when you do get a job.
Internships are not only beneficial for students both young and old; they are also beneficial for employers. Interns can provide a fresh perspective to the company and propose new and creative ideas that may not have previously been thought of. Also, (I know this may seem cliché) but many students are more familiar with technology and use of social media than the older generations and can be helpful in figuring out ways to use these so that they are most beneficial to the company.
Interns are also great for additional help with projects that may need some extra attention or time. Projects are great for interns because they are an easy way to ease them into their position and it gives one area to focus on so it is not so overwhelming. Another great benefit of having an intern is that it is almost a trial period to see if you would like to hire the student in the future. You are able to work with them for an extended amount of time, see how their work ethic is, and what their strengths and weaknesses are first-hand.
Hiring interns is also a way to give back to the community. Although it may not seem that way, by giving younger or less experienced people a chance to work with your company you are enhancing the workforce and the student’s experience. This is especially true for small businesses.
Last, but certainly not least, internships are a lot of fun! You get to meet a lot of new people who are eager to help you learn more about what you love and you get to experience it first-hand. What could be better than getting an up close and personal look at what your future could be? Give it a try!