You’ve been asked the question by everyone, from your parents, friends, and even distant relatives: “Are you looking for an internship?” As you pack up your dorm room or apartment, getting ready to head home for the summer, chances are good that you’ll be thinking of your summer plans, and whether or not you have a good answer to the aforementioned question. Summer internships have become, for some students, as much a staple of the college experience as ramen noodles. Everyone wants you to get an internship, but is it really as important as it seems?
Short answer—yes. Longer answer—yes, internships are integral to the process of career planning and are definitely a great idea for any college student hoping to work in a professional environment. There are several reasons for this, with one of the largest being simple: internships provide a foundation for your later career to be built upon. Even if you don’t go into the exact field you interned in, you’ll have experience working in an office setting and another line to add to your resume upon graduation.
Internships provide valuable insights that can only be gained through firsthand experiences. Additionally, you’ll learn beneficial skills that you could have never imagined needing to know. You might think you’ll be getting coffee for your higher-ups, but this isn’t the case; you will be sharpening your skills in various areas, including those that didn’t seem vital to your career path. Personal anecdote time: I worked as a digital marketing intern for a summer. I expected to be asked to mainly be doing busywork, but instead, I learned how to do everything from fill out order sheets to basic HTML coding, and even assisted in a major overhaul of the company’s website. Being an intern, in many places, is kind of like being a jack-of-all-trades: you’ll fit in where you’re needed, learning different aspects of the business in the process.
Something else internships will give you is a sense of routine and a familiarity with office settings. Upon your eventual graduation, you might be nervous to move from a (relatively) laid-back college environment to the hustle and bustle of the “real world.” If you’ve already completed an internship, you’ll have a much greater sense of what to expect, on a daily basis, from a company in your line of work. You’ll have seen firsthand the everyday tasks that are completed by different workers, providing you with a better overall understanding of how your industry, so to speak, works.
Finally, even if you’re interning in a field that doesn’t interest you, the experience you’ll get will look good on your resume. It’s always good for potential employers to see that you’ve had prior experience in an office setting, even if it’s in a different area. There’s a common paradoxical joke that college graduates make: all jobs require experience, but to gain experience, you have to have had a job. An internship is kind of like a shortcut in this vicious circle. You’ll be able to have something to put under the “Job Experience” heading on your resume, even as a college student who worked part-time during the summer.
Internships are not necessary to have a successful career, so don’t worry if you can’t nail one down. However, they are definitely a big help on your path to success in your chosen profession, and at the very least, they’ll look good on paper and help you acclimate to the routine of office work.
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