“I have to do one in order to graduate,” seems to be a common phrase heard from students in their junior or senior year of college. We are here to tell you that requirement could be, if you let it, one of your best college experiences.
Let’s start with what exactly an internship is. It’s experience-based credits that most college majors require in order for students to fulfill the necessary coursework before graduation. It is a “class,” however you don’t meet in a classroom. It’s real-life work experience in an actual job setting. What’s great about an internship is three fold. One, you are able to gain experience in the field you’re interested in, therefore getting your feet wet before you’re there for real. Two, you make connections that could, and most likely will, be great references for the post-graduation job hunt. And three, it’s one less textbook and test course that you have to take during your years at school.
Internships will not only prepare you for the working world, but also get you excited for it. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself saying, “I could totally see myself working here.” Here are our top 5 tips on making the most of your college internship(s):
- Do more than one.
You can do an internship anytime during college, even though you may only get credit as a junior or senior. But that’s okay! The more internships you do, the more knowledge you’ll have when it comes to what kinds of jobs you’re best suited for.
- Figure out the paid/not paid situation ASAP.
Many internships are paid just like a part-time job, and others, sad but true, are not paid at all. For some students, taking an internship that doesn’t pay is really hard based on their financial situation. But if you can help it, don’t let the fact that you’ll be working for free affect your decision. There are some great un-paid internships out there that will be worth it in the long run.
- Update your resume as you go.
Employers are increasingly asking for more experience from recent college graduates, therefore the more real-world instances you can present on your resume and in your interviews, the better.
- Be confident.
Being an intern is not always a glamorous job, but it’s not going to solely involve getting coffee and running errands, either. You’ll most likely be working on real projects, sitting in on real meetings, and talking to real clients. Know your role, but be assertive. Employers like to see that you’re independent and willing to go the extra mile to learn.
- Use your employer as a reference.
If your internship goes well, those employers will be the best letters of recommendation you can get. Advisors and professors are good references, but if you can show a future employer that you come recommended by a professional in the field, your chances of getting hired increase exponentially.
If you’re still questioning the beauty of internships, ask other former college students how theirs impacted life after graduation. You can bet that’s where they gained some of the best contacts, references and friends in their time at school, which means you can too.
So, wear that intern nametag proud, and go get yourself some experience!