Intern or Die: 3 Reasons Why College Students NEED Internships

by Rich DeMatteo on November 21, 2011 · 12 comments

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Mona Abdel-Halim is the co-founder of Resunate.com, the world’s only search engine optimizing resume builder. You can find Mona and Resunate on Facebook and Twitter. Resunate recently acquired the Regional Internship Center, an internship job board connecting internship seekers and employers in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

In this competitive job market, internships have become more of a requirement than just an added bonus on a job candidate’s resume. While internships in your field of study may be hard to find, you need to find a relevant internship experience to get an edge on your competition.

There are many complaints that come with the internship experience, such as many interns are unpaid, but the experience will help you in the future when it comes time to start the job hunt. Some positives of an internship experience include:

Gain Experience in Your Field of Study

While you most certainly won’t be making much money (if any at all) during your internship, you WILL gain some necessary knowledge on the job. Interning will provide you with real world experience and skills that you can add to your resume. Spending time working in the same field as your “dream career” might give you the confidence to continue pursuing that dream, or you might just come to realize that the work isn’t for you. Either way, interning will help in making future decisions.

Work Experience

While gaining specific experience in your desired field of study looks great on your resume, obtaining work experience with any organization can be just as important. Employers want to see that you have experience in an office setting around industry professionals. Many employers require entry-level candidates to have past work experience, even if they just graduated from college. Regardless of whether you were answering calls or directly working with team members, experience in an office setting can prove beneficial.

Networking Opportunity

Interning will give you the opportunity to make all kinds of contacts. Take every chance you have to learn from others and establish relationships with professionals. Don’t pass up the chance to meet anyone — because you never know, you might need references or a mentor in the future.

If you are buried under college coursework and even the thought of applying for internships sounds too stressful, do some research to see if your school will allow you to intern in exchange for school credit. Participating in an internship is important; the kind of experience that you will gain while interning cannot be learned in a classroom.

How did internship experiences help your career? Please share with us in the comments below!

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11 comments
Life an an intern
Life an an intern

Having an internship was really important to me. It was what separated me from college students with degrees who had no work experience. I interned my whole college career. I was able to gather great connections and it added character. Shannon is right, interning can be more beneficial than returning to school. I have a friend who did just that.

Shannon
Shannon

I found interning to be really useful when I was looking to change careers. I found a flexible intern position I could do nights and weekends while continuing to work full time and get paid. It was a great way to gain contacts and experience in the industry I wanted to move into. It and was actually more beneficial than returning to school would have been because what I lacked was experience, not education. Another positive result of interning was that working part time in the industry I wanted to be in made it easier to handle my less than ideal full-time position.

D.A. Badger
D.A. Badger

This is a great post! I'm a web designer in my mid-40s and would still consider taking an internship now just to gain new skills. They're beyond valuable when you're just starting out, though...if there's any way at all to swing it financially, I'd say go for it.

Greg
Greg

Jamie, I was recently in the same "trap". I had a full time job but no energy or time for much else. It was in an office setting. I was out of work for seven months with money to last the entire time to pay for bills but picked up another job just as funds ran out. I didnt do much woth that time but of course, looking back I am not regretting it. It happened again though. Full time job and a desire to go to school but instead worked for a full uear. Obviously my exhaustion and lack of zeal fornthe job was showing because I was fired. That is not to say I was a lously worker. But mow, I just landed an internship closely related to my firld of study, but have no source of income. So that office work which I enjoyed doing but saw little benefit outside of saying that I had experience before has payed off. The internship requires some of the administrative duties I did before. The greatest part though is the great opportunity I now have to meet with professionals in the field. All that is up to me now is to stay the course and not get discouraged. I am truly blessed. The search continues for a part time jb though.

Jen
Jen

I would like to hear about creating your own internship, and possibly not even for college credit or sanctioned by the department. Can't a student, graduate, career changer or job seeker create something they feel worthy, complete it, do it, put it on the resume? I hav had a few crackerjack applicants that have done this. I feel it shows initiative and is very out-of-the-box cool. But is it frowned upon if not official?

Career Test
Career Test

Definitely, internships bring multiple benefits. Students who complete at least one internship program while in college can get excellent benefits after they pass out and step into the real world. Thanks for the useful share, Mona!

Jamie G.
Jamie G.

I wish I'd had the luxury of interning at a company when I was in college. I was working a 9-5 job (full-time) in order to pay rent, tuition, etc and going to school - not really time for much else . My advisor and I came up with something in order to qualify me for graduation, but it wasn't a *real* internship. I wish I could get one now!

Eric Woodard
Eric Woodard

Thanks for posting! There are many benefits to interning.... One that sometimes gets overlooked: it will keep you sharp. Easiest time to find a job is when you have a job. If you don't have a job, an internship can provide one with the confidence, structure, discipline, and platform to make finding a paying job easier.

Bianca
Bianca

Great article! This goes further than just college though! Intern experience is great for post-grad too!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Bianca! You're right, for sure. Not everyone can afford to work an internship after graduating if it's unpaid, however. Each person needs to make that decision on their own!

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