While being a student can feel like a full time job, (it pretty much is), you are most likely studying your chosen major because you have some idea of what you want to pursue as a future career. Even if you don’t, each class that you take will only get you that much closer to discovering the very topics and issues that interest you.
When I entered the University, I declared myself as a Psychology major with the hopes of being a future psychiatrist. My second year in, I fell in love with Anthropology and decided to double major. It was not until I started working as an event coordinator on campus did I realize how much I loved planning events and that my interests in understanding culture allowed me to coordinate a variety of diverse educational programs. It was not until I interned with the Smithsonian Associates during my junior did I realize how much better I was at marketing events via social media than actually planning them. If you have your heart set on becoming a doctor or a producer, or you find yourself interested in politics or mathematics, here’s why you need to do internship in your area of interest before you graduate.
Get relevant work experience – even if it’s unpaid.
It can be tough to accept an internship that is unpaid but you gain so much more in return. There is only so much you can learn from a textbook and from inside the classroom – interning with a company places you in a real position to better learn and understand more about what your future career entails through relevant work experience you will complete. Internships can last anywhere from three weeks to an entire year. Regardless of the duration, you’ll be gaining specialized and transferable skills that will better prepare for when you apply for your dream job.
Get college credit.
More often than not, internships can be applied toward academic credit. (Before an internship is accepted, this is something that should be discussed with your chosen internship site and your academic advisor). For example, if you are 20 credits shy from graduating, kill two birds with one stone by opting out of taking an irrelevant extra college course and use your internship hours toward graduation credits instead.
The great thing about participating in an internship is that you will be working not only with other interns but in a company with real professionals you can learn from. Whether it’s your direct supervisor or assistant to the CEO for the company which you are interning, you have the opportunity to reach out to these individuals as sources of value information, guidance and maybe even a mentor. Make your internship worthwhile by connecting with those who have been in your shoes and can provide insight on how to reach your goals.
Build your resume.
If you are worried that your current resume only lists the part time jobs you held in high school or your current one now, doing an internship allows you to fill up that blank space. Even if your internship is not paid, it is still considered work experience that you should list, especially if you can elaborate on how your responsibilities and accomplishments make you a qualified applicant to the job(s) for which you are applying.
See if you actually like the your chosen career of interest.
Sometimes seeing (in this case doing) is believing. Completing an internship might cement the realization that you really want to pursue the line of work you are interested in or that what you thought you wanted to do is actually not you.
Be more employable.
While participating in an internship does not guarantee you will get hired with the company or a job after graduation, it does increase your odds a whole lot more. A company will most likely lean toward considering an applicant who has interned with them previously than someone who has not. A hiring manager will most likely favor your resume because you have the relevant work experience than someone who does not.
If I gave you enough reason to consider participating in an internship, you can check out these resources for available internships throughout the U.S. including Internships.com, Idealist.org, and Looksharp.com