If you are one of those people who is required to do an internship in the last few years of college, don’t skip out on it. You probably think that a job internship sounds super boring, you probably won’t get paid, and all you will do is grunt work. I hate to break it to you, but you are 100% right. Internships primarily are absolutely terrible. Working for free is essentially semi-willing forced manual labor that generally should be illegal. However, we live in a culture that requires previous experience from college graduates that have not even gotten into the work world yet. While actually participating in an internship is mainly terrible, the next job you apply to will recognize the internship as “a step in the right direction” and might even help you land a few jobs. Here are a couple positives that come from internships while you are trying to survive in a society that is essentially not survivable.
Welcome to Real Life
I am not going to bore you with facts like “you will gain valuable work experience” because, in large part, that is simply not true. When you go into an internship, very little will transfer to an actual job. Perhaps you are lucky to get a job at the end of an internship, but more often than not, internships use your time, mental space, and energy to work on things nobody else wants to do. With that being said, the first benefit of internships is getting a glimpse into the world of work specifying in a topic that you perhaps already find interesting. Maybe you are studying environmental science and want to experience, at least in part, the reality of this kind of job. The best way to do this is through an internship. You can identify things you love about that career path as well as things you hate. In addition to understanding a day in the world of whatever career path you choose, you can get a rough feel for the people you will deal with. Of course, people are different at every company, but there are similarities between the type of customers, peers, and bosses that you might connect with over time.
Refining your Skills
Yes, I know this one sounds kind of boujee, but you might find that some of the skills you learned in school could use some work. We can pretend that you didn’t ditch 30% of your class to day drink, but it might have happened a handful of times. Internships are a great way to refresh some of those hazy morning lecture notes and apply them to something that actually matters. In addition to going over the aspects of your education that are useful, you can also work through some soft skills and leadership skills. I hate to break it to you, but you can’t exactly go up to your boss, leading a multimillion-dollar company, and casually state, “what’s up, boss.” Internships help you learn the appropriate terminology that needs to become your work voice. Nobody is expecting an intern to be perfect, so give it your best shot and learn as you go.
Finding a Mentor
In many ways finding a mentor has become more challenging with the rise of technology in the work world. While you connect to hundreds if not thousands of people on social media sites, most of those connections are superficial and shallow at best. Finding a mindful mentor is more accessible in a face-to-face environment, which will likely be through an internship. Getting in good with someone who has more work experience and a more impactful job title is not the worst thing in the world. People naturally connect based on characteristics, personality, and work ethic. If you find someone that seems to be a good connection, ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. Getting a foot in the door in any career is challenging, so it helps to have someone on the other side encouraging you to push and not give up.
Network, Network, Network
Everyone always says that networking is the most valuable thing you can do for the long-term success of your career. They are not lying. An Internship is a great way to meet and connect with people who might help you down the road. Even if these people are not the best people to add to your close network, you never know where the relationship might go in the future. Don’t close a door before it has even opened.
Build the Best Resume
Truly the best thing about internships is the fact that you can add some work experience to your resume. Customer service, retail, and the service industry will only get you so far. Adding an internship to your resume that is relevant to your field is the best way to bulk up your resume and add some job experience. Most entry positions do not actually want to train their employees and require 1-3 years of experience while still paying the bare minimum. Very few college graduates are going to have that kind of experience which is why internships are very important. On your resume, add details of daily activities, significant projects, and any other specific details that were prevalent in the internship. Adding these key features will make your resume more detailed, unique, and distinctive, giving you a slight edge over others who have no experience.
While the overall concept of internships is quite terrible, a few benefits might interest you overall. Many colleges and universities require an internship, so don’t pass up the opportunity by taking a class that lets you bypass it. The course won’t help you get anywhere in the long run. In any job, you should be professional and polite to get the best recommendation possible. Show off your best skills as required and put in your best effort. Stick with the internship to better your chances of early career success.