Flickr user Richard Elzey

Internships have become an almost vital part of modern job hunts. They are the experience we often need to get entry-level positions outside of retail or food service. Like many other topics in college, they are often surrounded by a series of myths. So let’s get a few things straight.

Myth #1: You can’t include unpaid internship experience on your resume.

The great thing about resumes is that you can include whatever information is relevant to the job you’re applying for. Volunteer work, relevant classes, previous work experience (which, yes, includes all internship experience): So long as you can make it relate to what you want to do, include it. Any experience, paid or unpaid, shows that you’ve done the work.

Myth #2: Interns only do grunt work.

While there are some internships that might have you doing coffee runs, most employers are looking for interns to work with either a team or a mentor on projects. You’ll be learning job skills that will be important later on in that field. Some companies hire directly from their internship pool, so they’re better off teaching you skills that will make you a better full-time employee than making you do grunt work.

Myth #3: An internship isn’t worth it if you don’t get paid.

It’s hard doing something for free, especially if you have to work in a city that’s expensive to live in for a few months. However, internship experience can make or break it for some employers, so your long-term benefits outweigh the short-term issues. Some internships will give you college credits instead of payment. But as an intern, you’ll gain networking perks and field-specific intel for when you’re job hunting.

Myth #4: I’m better off just working a summer job where I’ll get paid.

This is really dependent on what field you’re planning to go into after college. If you want to work in retail, then yeah, you’re better off working somewhere you’ll get hands on experience and be paid for it. However, some companies won’t hire you if you don’t have specific experience in the field, which is what internships offer. General work experience is good, but specific field experience is often better.

Myth #5: The biggest, most well-known companies offer the best internships.

This is kind of like how well-known colleges are supposedly better than smaller, lesser-known ones. You’re still getting a great (sometimes better) experience as an intern for a small company. You will still learn the same skills. If anything, you’ll be more included in projects because you’re part of a smaller team. So don’t sneer at a company just because they’re not Google. The experience will still be good for you.

Use College Raptor to discover personalized college matches, cost estimates, acceptance odds, and potential financial aid for schools around the US—for FREE!