Understanding The Value Of Internships

A summer internship is a short-term job opportunity that allows you to obtain introductory hands-on experience in a particular career field.  When looking for information on what a certain professional entails or which career would be the best fit for you, you will often be advised to do an internship so you can make a more informed decision. But that’s not the only value of doing an internship.

While internships can vary hugely in terms of duration, payment, expectations, and the experience itself, every internship opportunity offers tremendous value to interns. Here are some of the more compelling reasons why doing at least one internship (if not more) is so highly recommended to high school and college students.

Allows You To Test Your Interests And Skills

Picture this—You love playing video games and are convinced that becoming a video game designer is the right profession for you. You enroll in the relevant program in college and halfway through the semester you realize that designing video games is not half as exciting as playing the games. You now have to go through the whole process of changing your major. If you had done an internship instead, you would have found out this crucial fact before choosing your major.

Doing an internship in your field of study allows you to test the waters and decide whether you have the skills and interest to pursue a particular path without any strings attached. It takes away the glamour aspect of the career and gives you sneak-peek at the reality of working in that field.

Provides Valuable Work Experience

When you take up a job, several things come into play that you may not have thought of before. You have to make sure you suitably dressed and get to work on time. You have to adapt to the workplace protocol and get along with your co-workers. You have to stay on top of all your assignments and deadlines. An internship prepares you for all these attributes and more. It helps you hone your communication, leadership, and team-working skills, all of which will hold you in good stead in any workplace environment, long after your internship is completed.

Provides Insight Into Skills Necessary For That Career

We don’t always recognize the skills that are necessary for a career until after we have actually taken up a job in that field. You may have decided to pursue a career as a primary school teacher because it sounds like a fun job. After all, how hard can it be to care for a group of little children?

When you intern as an aide to a primary school teacher, you will find out that it is not as easy and smooth sailing as it sounds. Younger children can be difficult to deal with. They may get fussy suddenly because they feel homesick or they are hungry or maybe they are just tired. It takes immense patience, fortitude, and empathy to be a primary school teacher.

These are things you may not have given a second thought before doing an internship as a primary school teacher’s aide. Imagine how frustrating it would be if you had completed the necessary qualifications and started work in this career only to find out that you do not have what it takes to make a go of it.

Another Value is That an Internship Helps You Build A Strong Resume

When you go job hunting as a new graduate, you will find that most companies are looking for applicants who have had some relevant work experience. But how do you get that work experience if nobody will give you the opportunity? That is the classic catch-22 situation that most newly graduated students find themselves in.

An internship solves this problem for you easily. Firstly, it shows your initiative. Secondly, it allows you to say you have obtained some first-hand work experience and you have a fairly good idea of what the job entails. Both of these will work in your favor and strengthen your resume, giving you a competitive edge over other applicants.

Increases Your Awareness Of Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Are you a people person?

Is a job dealing with customers directly a good fit for you or would you better at a behind-the-scenes job?

Do you have the skills and initiative to solve problems or does your strength lie in keeping records and organizing files?

Does your strength lie in interacting with teenagers or toddlers?

Do you work better as part of a team or are you more productive, efficient, and capable when you work independently?

Not all of us are instinctively aware of our strengths, weaknesses, or personal preferences. We only gain this awareness when we find ourselves in different situations. It’s surprising how much you can learn about yourself when you do an internship. You will become aware of what works for you and what doesn’t, what you can do and what you cannot, what you like, and what you do not. When you are looking for long term employment after graduation, this knowledge will prove invaluable.

Widens Your Network Of Professional Contacts

As a high school student, it is highly unlikely that you will get many opportunities to develop a network of professional contacts. The best way to get to know other professionals is by working with them and an internship is a perfect way to do that.

If you are hardworking, diligent, and reliable, they are more likely to remember you even after you have finished the stint with the company. You never know how and when these professional contacts could open doors for you when you are ready to take on a full-time job. For this to happen you must take the internship seriously and be the best that you can be with any assignment that you are given. Do an exceptional job and you may even have a job waiting for you after you’ve completed your college education.

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