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Since 2013, at least 60% of college students participate in internships or co-ops, and for good reason. Internships provide countless opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. If you work hard and show promise, internships can even score you a well-paying job when you graduate, which is just one of the many reasons why they’re so important.
Ultimately, an internship will set you up for success, regardless of your field of study. Whether the position is paid or pro-bono, it’s bound to come with plenty of benefits, including the ones below.
Internships give you a real-world, hands-on experience unlike anything you can receive in a classroom. While you might study different data sets at school, you’ll actually get to apply the information as an intern. Ultimately, connecting and using this knowledge will help you develop the hard skills necessary for a full-time position.
Spending time in a professional setting will also teach you about workplace culture, employee relations, and leadership structure. That way when you get your first career-specific job, you’ll know what to expect. Moreover, you’ll have developed a few soft skills like public speaking, leadership, and problem-solving.
Some universities even require that you experience this professional skill development by integrating applied learning credits into your coursework. As you complete your internship, you’ll gain the aptitude to complete specific tasks — and the credits to prove it.
Depending on your school’s policy, you can typically earn one to six credits after participating in the internship. Your specific major may include criteria to decide which positions are worthy of credit. Speak with your advisor to determine which ones are eligible and how many you need to complete all academic requirements.
Scoring an internship is also important because it helps you build a strong resume. Just imagine how good those applied credits and freshly-acquired skills will look on a CV. Even entry-level positions require some level of experience, so including a year or so worth of internships on your resume is sure to help you score a job.
The supervisors and mentors you meet during your internship can also help strengthen your application and boost your chances of finding full-time employment. Use them as references or ask for recommendation letters when you’re applying for jobs. The more positive and determined you are, the more likely they’ll be to cast you in a positive light and recommend you for open positions.
How do you see yourself using your degree? Perhaps a year or so of college is making you rethink your major or your entire career path. Luckily, getting an internship can help you determine the next best step for your future. Even if you have a general idea of the career you’d like to pursue, being an intern allows you to explore other possibilities and areas of interest.
Perhaps your passions will inspire you to pursue an unrelated field as you gain first-hand experience. Odds are you’ll be working in various departments during your internship, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test out different positions. Doing so will help you refine your interests and rethink both long and short-term career goals. That way you end up with a job you truly enjoy.
Professional mentors can fortify your career development and provide valuable feedback in real-time. With their help, you can focus on your career, set and attain goals, gain confidence and expand your social and professional network. Even after you complete your internship, they may remain a guiding light and help you access new opportunities. However, good mentors are often hard to come by.
Just 37% of Americans currently have a mentor, and 61% say the relationship developed naturally. Luckily, junior-level employees are the ones most likely to have a mentor, and the odds of you finding one are even better if you become an intern.
Say Yes to Opportunity
Seven in 10 companies offer their interns a full-time job, and 80% of interns accept. Be a part of the 56% of students who say yes by using your internship to boost self-efficacy. Rely on the skills you developed during your internship to jump-start your career. Remember, you can do hard things and you deserve a job you love. Getting an internship is simply the first step on your journey.
Whether you transition to a permanent position or score a job elsewhere, your time and dedication are sure to pay off, so say yes to opportunity and hello to internships.