The Value of Internships to Recent College Graduates

Internships are an essential addition to a college student’s resume-arsenal. An internship can be paid or unpaid and can be an excellent opportunity to develop industry-specific skills, gain real-world work experience, test-drive a chosen career path, establish professional network connections and allow a recent college graduate to gain an advantage over their peers developing character and professional development.

Value of Internships

University graduates have spent four years learning vast amounts of information across a variety of subjects. They have narrowed their interests to a specific area and been instructed by the top professionals in their field. A veteran college student has learned how to perform particular duties and expect as young professionals. An internship allows that same student to put their knowledge into actual-world application. By spending time in the work environment, a student can develop some quality portfolio additions and participate in events that students without an internship have no access to.

College students interested in finding a quality internship should evaluate their career goals and find training to help them achieve those goals. Not all internships are paid or are with well-known companies, but one should consider the long-term benefits of smaller organizations. The intern is usually responsible for more duties at a smaller firm, but this is an opportunity to DO more. While searching for an internship, a college student should approach employers rather than wait for them to find you. Most organizations have many different prospects for a single training, but you will have to prove your worth before and after you are given a position.

Completing an internship allows a college student to test drive their chosen career path. Most recent graduates have never actually worked in their field of interest. Internships enable young professionals to experience everyday life in their future careers. The subtle etiquette of a work environment is a significant change from campus life, and the more experience a person gains, the more at ease they will be when it comes time to apply for a professional job.

Applicants that have spent time producing in an office can easily show their value. This value is apparent through quality portfolios, glowing recommendations, and the confidence gained through hard work at a paid or unpaid internship.

When planning for an internship, it is best to consider the rest of your school load. Many students choose to complete their internships during the summer semesters when their course load is much less. Another method is to plan your internship around classes that are less strenuous on a student schedule. If you still choose to complete your training during the spring or fall semesters, I suggest informing your professors and internship boss about your entire program. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse, but instead, a notification that you will have to adhere to a strict and disciplined work schedule.

Another tip, don’t fall behind. Murphy’s Law will ensure that you will inevitably have many deadlines coincide with each other. This problem is compounded to disastrous proportions when you are back on school and work assignments. This creates a situation of sink or swim. A college student taking classes and completing an internship simultaneously must reorganize and re-prioritize their life or fail and waste all the time, money, and effort it took to come this far.

Internships open the door for many networking opportunities. The adage, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” applies to many job-hunting situations. Take this for example; two recent graduates are looking for a job. Student A has superior grade scores but has not professionally networked at all. Student B has average grade scores but has spent countless hours participating in clubs, student organizations and volunteered their time in exchange for hands-on experience.

Student A has to put in applications everywhere, hoping that someone will see their resume and mock portfolio value. In the meantime, student B gets a phone call from a former internship colleague who has a position available. Student B has an advantage because they have already proven their worth to the prospective employer. This situation can work in many ways, and the hirer doesn’t need to have worked with the applicant to see their value. Including these networked professionals as a reference can gain the same results.

Interning students also have access to make quality mentors who are more than willing to share their knowledge with interested and worthy young minds. Mentoring opportunities can be found by being genuinely interested in the work being done and those you are working with. Asking relevant questions and performing on the task will earn respect from those you cross paths with while in the office. Then engaging those around you with intelligent conversation, it is essential to do more listening than talking.

A college internship is a valuable source of work experience and portfolio additions. Including professional training on your resume is an excellent way to set yourself apart from other recent graduates. An employer automatically knows the prospective employee has been “battle-tested” and will perform primary office duties with practiced ease. This is more evident, in my opinion, with internships at smaller organizations.

These internships allow the college student to take on more responsibilities than getting coffee and making copies at larger, better-known organizations. Nonprofit organizations and small companies are happy to employ interns. Their small budget makes them a perfect fit for a cheap or free intern. Another characteristic that helps these organizations match well to an internship program is their ability to allow an intern to experience a variety of working situations. These varied tasks enrich a college intern’s skill set and professional portfolio.

There are facets to work experience other than job experience and fattening a portfolio. This opportunity to spend quality time in a professional office environment should not be taken lightly. This is an opportunity for a college student to communicate on a personal level with co-workers and superiors. Observing what these professionals do and how they carry themselves is a great way for an intern to transcend from a learner to a doer. This personal development is invaluable to a young professional.

Confidence is gained when a challenging task is completed through hard work and perseverance. The fact that an employer has entrusted a job of value to an untried worker should weigh heavily on the mind. Take the pressure and use it as motivation. Resist the urge to panic when the work gets tough and the deadlines become short because this is distracting and can block professional creativity.

There are many codes of conduct that aren’t taught in a university classroom. Putting yourself in an office environment allows you to learn to coordinate your schedule with others. Things that seem petty, like lunch hours and off days, should be scheduled with co-workers and supervisors in mind. Be available for the shifts that no one else wants because you make a great impression on your co-workers and superior’s jobs easier. This keeps you from seeming self-entitled and shows others in the office that you are here to be a helping hand instead of an obstacle.

College is the perfect place to learn self-reliance and independence. An internship is an ideal place to put those qualities to use. During the college years, students mold their intellect. During training, a student begins setting their characters. A good combination of the two can have a significant impact on the rest of your career. Procrastination during classes may get you through your lessons, but procrastinating in the real world will teach you a lesson! One must find the motivation necessary to focus on the job at hand.

If a boss assigns a project, then it must be a top priority. Hanging out every night and then beginning a project one or two days before it’s due will get a passing grade in school, but the lack of effort will show to an employer. Errors due to lack of preparation, research, and proofreading are drastic for an internship. An honest manager will not give you a letter of recommendation that is undeserved.

Internships can be paid or unpaid. The vast majority of them are due and for a reason. Employers see unpaid or low-paying internships as an excellent way to ease the strain on a budget. The term outstanding can be misleading, though. Rewards gleaned while interning can come in the form of money and work experience. Both tips have value and substance in the real world. Hands-on conferences and training sessions can be expensive, and an intern is getting similar results for free.

To devote the amount of time needed to be successful at an internship, sometimes it is necessary to quit all other jobs. Most college students and recent graduates are already struggling financially, which is often a sticky situation. If a paid internship can be found, then the previously mentioned burden can be avoided. Paid internships are rare and, in a slow economy, highly competitive. Not to worry, though, because studies show that unpaid internships tend to be more challenging, and therefore, more enriching.

In conclusion, I would like to stress the importance of applying oneself to the tasks given while interning. Good opportunities don’t come along often in life. An internship is an excellent opportunity that can be very beneficial to one’s future career. If not taken seriously, it can significantly hinder a young professional’s entrance into the work world.


Read: What Should I Major In College?

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