Internships sound daunting, don’t they?
It may be your first real job, the pay is low, the hours long, and you are at the bottom of whichever career ladder you seek to climb.
Though these points are true in most cases, there are many benefits of internships, as well. In fact, taking that internship now may just help you skip a few rungs on your way up that career ladder in the future.
So, why are internships important?
In this post, we’re going to list all the benefits of an internship program, both obvious ones and those less so.
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Here are 10 benefits of internships and reasons why internship programs are important:
1. Actual Work Experience
When you’re in college or a fresh grad, your resume probably looks as if it was printed in invisible ink—there’s not much on there, right?
The number one reason for taking an internship is for gaining actual work experience.
Sure, you may have worked as a barista or SAT tutor part-time, and you can definitely add those items to your resume. However, if your dream is to be a web developer at Facebook or practice environmental law to help fight climate change, those high school jobs or college gigs are nothing more than filler on your job resume or cover letter.
On the other hand, internships are where you get to obtain experience in the field you’ll pursue on your career path. It’s a job, and likely the first one on your resume and cover letter that’ll make a future hiring manager sit up and take notice.
Related Read: What is an Internship? Your Basic Questions Answered
2. Application of Knowledge
On top of the great work history you’ll be able to show off on your future CV and cover letter, an internship provides you with the perfect opportunity to apply knowledge you’ve gained up to this point.
Perhaps you’re a computer science major dreaming of working in cybersecurity. Maybe you’re taking textile studies at FIT with hopes of one day being a part of New York Fashion Week. Whatever the case may be, an internship in your field will be where you can put all that book knowledge to actual use.
3. Networking With Professionals
One of the best benefits of an internship is the access you’re given to network with professionals in your chosen field.
When you start an internship, you have the enviable advantage of being in close proximity to top minds in your field and influential names to drop in the future. From fellow interns to give you support to mentors who are key players in your industry, you’ll be surrounded by all the right people.
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4. Learn Firsthand
You get to apply your studies in an actual work environment, but internships also give you the opportunity to gain new industry insights and knowledge.
As a travel enthusiast, I know that even the most accurately detailed tourist guide can’t describe how it feels to visit a place for myself. Likewise, you can learn all you want, but you won’t understand working, from the physical labor to the mental tasks, until you’re in the trenches yourself.
Furthermore, there are many things they just can’t, or don’t, teach you in school, such as proprietary software or the soft skills that you need to use. Learning them firsthand is one of the best internship benefits, for sure.
5. Field Experimentation
Are you sure you want to have a career in this field you’ve chosen?
Are you sure-sure?
One of the greatest advantages of doing an internship is that you can experiment, no strings attached.
Maybe you don’t want to work for Google, after all. Or it could be that you want to change your entire career path. Either way, a 3-month summer internship lets you give it a try and walk away with no hard feelings once your contract is up.
And, that experience you’ve gained is yours to keep!
Related Read: 21+ Internship Quotes & Inspiration for New Interns
6. College Credit
Not all programs offer college credit, but those that do are definitely one of the major reasons for applying for an internship when in university.
In the United States, internship programs which offer college credits usually give out between 1 and 6 credits for a successfully completed internship. Some, such as the State University of New York at Oswego, go as far as granting up to 12 university credits (for 480+ hours of intern work).
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not up to the company you wish to intern with whether you’ll earn university credits. Rather, the school, the appropriate professor, and your chosen major determine whether you can earn college credits. Check with your school’s guidelines before applying!
Related Read: How to Prepare for an Internship Interview?
7. A Paycheck
For most intern programs that don’t offer college credits, and even for some that do, a regular paycheck is one of the most desired benefits of internships.
While interns’ paychecks are usually considered peanuts when compared to the “real” employees at the company, were you to compare, it’s still money in the bank. Rather than bartending to help you pay for college expenses (unless that’s where your heart lies), a paid internship in your chosen field will put some cash in your wallet while earning invaluable industry experience—a win-win, right?
Related Read: 15+ Easy Ways on How to Save Money in College
8.Increased Professional Confidence
There’s nothing quite like ending a first date with optimism for what the future has in store for the two of you.
Similarly, an internship program arms you with the confidence you need to take on the challenges in store for you later in your professional life. And, becoming better equipped with confidence will give you an edge in any future candidate pool you find yourself in, as well.
Related Read: What is the Difference Between a Job and a Career?
9. Boost in Understanding of How Jobs Work
We’ve talked about how internships benefit college students, graduates, and other people, but mostly in terms of how they’ll help with your field or industry.
However, internships also help you understand the world of employment, as well.
As likely your first true job, internships introduce you to it all, from job hunting to interviewing to the ins and outs of office life. With an intern program under your belt, you’ll be well-prepared for subsequent resumes, cover letters, and job applications around the corner.
Related Read: 65+ First-Time Job Ideas for Teens & College Students
10. A Job Contract Possibility
Last but not least on the benefits of internships, it may just turn into an actual job offer upon completion!
While certainly not a requirement, many companies who feel positive about you as an intern at the end of the program may decide to keep you on. After all, they have invested time, resources, and money over your summer or semester, so it’s in their interest, as well.
And, even if you don’t want to sign a full job contract when it’s all over, at least you can leverage a positive job recommendation letter from them!
Related Read: What to Bring to an Internship Interview?
The real world can be intimidating, especially when it comes to transitioning from school to a career.
One of the top benefits of an internship program is that it guides you, hand-in-hand, as you segue from academic life into professional life.
So, should you do an internship?
From work experience to networking to practical knowledge and beyond, the advantages of internships are myriad. Go for it—you’ll almost certainly not regret it!
Want to make the most of your internship program? Sign up to Goodwall (links just below)! On Goodwall, you’ll be surrounded by over 1 million Gen Z and millennial members, many with like-minded interests and similar career paths. It’s the perfect place to get found, network, find support, pitch ideas, and promote your professional web profile to future employers!