When you’re at college, it’s easy to get so busy concentrating on your university coursework and social activities that you don’t stop to think about or spend time on getting work experience too.
However, before you complete your studies, it’s wise to enroll in one or more internships so you get experience before you go after your first full-time job.
Read on for some top reasons why you should consider taking part in an internship sooner rather than later.
1. Get Referrals and Testimonials
For starters, one of the main reasons to get yourself an intern position is that doing so will give you the opportunity to obtain referrals and testimonials. As long as you do a good job as an intern and impress the people you’re working with, you’re likely to receive a glowing testimonial. This you can then showcase on social media sites and in your resume. You might even potentially be referred to another company where a permanent job is available.
No matter which industry you want to join, having those who are already established in it backing you will help you to get where you want to be much more quickly. Many jobs are offered because of contacts and connections, after all, so utilize this trend to move your career forward.
2. Find Clarity on Your Career Direction
Of course, another top benefit of completing internships is that the practical experience you get helps you to find clarity on your career direction. When you’re starting out in a field, or still completing university studies, you think you know what a job may entail, but until you really see how it works from the inside, you don’t really know.
Set up an internship (or two or three or more) for yourself in your preferred sector and you’ll soon get a taste for whether or not the position you’ve been interested in is for you. Plus, if you’ve been tossing up about multiple job types within an area, an internship can steer you in one particular direction.
3. Learn New Skills
For most people, completing an intern program is incredibly valuable because of the practical skills picked up during the days or weeks spent working in a venture. While most internships involve doing a lot of “grunt work” (that is, basic tasks that don’t require too much experience), they nevertheless are good teaching grounds.
Not only can you pick up skills that are valuable in the kind of work you want to do, such as how to deal with clients, write reports, do research, use computer programs and so on, but you can also learn more personal skills. For example, during an internship you’re likely to hone your communication (written and verbal), time management, organizational and relationship-building skills.
4. Make Helpful Contacts and Get a Foot in the Door
Because so many jobs come about because of who you know rather than what you know, it’s important to start building your base of contacts as soon as you can. Enrolling in an internship at a company in your preferred industry gives you the perfect chance to do this.
During your intern program, get to know top managers in the firm you’re working for, as well as other employees such as HR staff members and those in the departments you spend time in. You never know where these relationships might lead, so stay in touch with people after your internship has finished.
Plus, be on the lookout for other contacts you can make during your internship, such as with the company’s clients, suppliers, or even people from competitor organizations who you meet at industry events.
5. Apply Knowledge Practically
Another excellent takeaway from being an intern is that you will have the chance to apply knowledge you’ve been learning during your studies to practical, real-world situations. Whether you’re currently studying an AACSB accredited online MBA, or a degree in engineering, accounting, marketing, teaching or something else, when you spend time as an intern you can see how what you’ve been learning is actually used in the workplace.
There’s a big different between learning about tactics, strategies, software and techniques in the classroom, after all, and actually applying them in the workforce. Having this experience will therefore reinforce what you learn in the classroom, and help you to complete your university and other studies more easily in turn.
6. Stand Out from Other Students When Applying for Jobs
Lastly, a top reason to take part in an internship is that doing so will give you wonderful fodder for your resume. Not all graduates complete internships, so when you do, you immediately give yourself a way of standing out from other candidates when you apply for jobs.
If you’re new to a career, anything you can do to get noticed for all the right reasons is a bonus.