Why You Need an Internship!
Although college prepares you very well for a career, still nothing can compare to hands-on experience. This is where internships come in. Every college student, one way or another, learns about these opportunities that exist out there in the world between being a college student and actual employment. An internship can be defined as a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment, and it can be paid or unpaid. For example, if you want to go into publishing, you might have to take an internship before you are qualified for an actual job. Internships can also get you access to network and gain contacts, or even college credit in some occasions. This is why internships are so important. It is very difficult to get a good job with zero experience. Internships give you this experience and an idea of what to expect once you are looking for a job. Internships can also be a good tool to discern whether the career path you are choosing is the right one. I’ve heard many stories of students changing majors or career paths because during their internship they realized they could not do that as a job.
It is important to understand that most internships are not paid and are not exactly the most glamorous jobs ever. Usually, internships are the lowest jobs down the chain-of-command. In an office for example, interns do anything and everything from answering phone calls, to doing errands, bringing coffee, and most importantly, becoming best friends with the copy machine. From experience I can tell you that an intern must become BFFs with every machine in the office no matter how unfriendly they might seem at first. Although the work is tough, the experience you are getting is the best compensation. People learn through doing, and once that experience is gained, you’ll be ready to tackle bigger and better things.
Although internships are not limited to undergraduate and graduate students, I enthusiastically recommend students start as early as possible during their college careers. I had my first internship while I was in high school at a museum and it gave me a lot experience with etiquette and event planning, while at the same time being exposed to fine art. I gained strange knowledge such as understanding the difference between Neo-Classicism and Romanticism art periods and the difference between a black-tie and a white-tie event, skills which have surprisingly come in handy a couple of times.
My point is that although internships might seem like a sacrifice for students – giving one’s time for no pay most of the time – they are tools and investments that will pay off in the future (They look really good in a resume too!) You will also find that internships are quite fun. I’ve had three internships and the work does not get easier but the experience I’ve gained makes me a good candidate for almost any entry-level position even without my BA being completed.
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