As students, it is a guarantee that you have heard – or will hear – the word internship floating around. While they are talked about widely, many students don’t fully understand what they are and their importance to their college career until much too late in their college career. The following is a brief overview of internships: what they are, the different types, why they’re important, and how to get one.
An internship is basically an opportunity for college students to work within their field prior to graduation. Colleges match students with employers with the idea that employers will benefit from the help of a student and that the student will learn what is required to succeed within their field of choice. There are two types of internships, paid and unpaid. Unpaid is by far the most common. This sometimes turns students off to the idea of an internship, as they don’t see the point in working without being paid. This view, however, is incredibly short-sited. Although it is true that you are not receiving monetary compensation, you are receiving priceless experience and a nice line item on your resume for when you graduate. Paid internships generally exist for students that have already graduated or for students in science and technology-related fields.
An internship is important for many reasons. First, it is important for you to work within your field prior to graduation so that you are assured that what you have picked is what you really want to do. Often the practical application of a major is not what was expected while studying, and students are left feeling disillusioned. An internship allows you to go into your field knowing what you are getting into. Second, an internship begins the process of networking that is so important in today’s job market. The people you meet in an internship know other people in your field and can help you make the requisite contacts upon graduation to secure a job. Last, an internship bolsters your resume post-graduation. Potential employers want to see that you took a pro-active role in your education, and an internship shows this in a way many things cannot.
So, you’re ready to find an internship. How do you go about doing this? There are two main ways of securing an internship. The first is through your college. Talk to your academic adviser and explain what field you would like to do your internship in. They will then be able to connect you with the right people or company. As an added bonus, many universities give college credit for internships. The second way to find an internship is on your own. Do this is there is a specific company you would like to work for that is not affiliated with your college. Simply call them up or email the head of human resources and ask. It’s amazing what can happen if you just put yourself out there.
Internships are beneficial to your overall student profile upon graduation, now more than ever before. Don’t cheat yourself out of this valuable experience!