A growing number of universities require students to complete an internship before graduation.
If I ran a university, I would seriously consider doing the same.
Before we get into why internships are so valuable, I’d like to take a moment to say that not all internships are created equal.
I’m guessing you did a lot of research before choosing your college — you need to do the same thing before committing to an internship. Find something relevant to your career path and at a reputable organization, then enjoy these 6 advantages over your non-interning classmates:
Apply What You Learned in the Classroom
Regardless of how rigorous your university is, there are limits to what you’ll get out of your coursework. Classes provide you with the theory, concepts, and skills central to your chosen field, while labs and culminating projects encourage you to apply that knowledge. What’s still missing is real-world application — the most important piece of all. By completing an internship, you’ll have 3 to 12 months of continual opportunities to apply, refine, and build upon what you learned in the classroom.
Discover What You Do and Don’t Like
Every job and every company is unique. By interning, you can identify whether a certain job is right for you, while also gaining insight into the type of organization you want to work for (e.g. big or small, profit or not-for-profit, laid-back or highly structured, etc.). Think of it like test driving a car before you buy.
Network With the Right People
What better place to make professional contacts that in a professional setting? Whether in person or over the phone, interns regularly meet people in their target industry. Aside from diversifying your network, some of these contact (like your internship supervisor) will be able to attest to your work ethic and competencies in a way that professors can’t.
Get the Experience Employers Want
There are millions of job seekers nationwide, yet 52% of U.S. companies report difficulty filling positions. Of these companies, 47% say candidates lack the “hard” job skills or technical skills necessary, and 35% say job seekers lack in experience. Get the experience they crave by completing an internship. Better yet, complete multiple internships.
Develop Your Professional Identity
Thriving with colleagues in the workplace is different than thriving with your college peers. Use your internship to develop your workplace confidence, etiquette, and habits, and to determine what type of worker you are, what motivates you, and what you need to succeed.
Transition to a Full-time Position
While not guaranteed, internships often end up in full-time job opportunities. Why? Employers have already invested time and money training you, and they already know what type of worker you are. Play your cards right and you just might have a job offer before you even apply.