Are Internships Mandatory?

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You may have heard of an internship. Taking one may have crossed your mind, or you never really got to it. But let’s say you are someone who has never been interested in taking one. Here is something that is interesting: do you need to take an internship? Will it jeopardize your future not to have that experience?

Here in this article, we discuss how important an internship is and answer a few questions about its nature and just how mandatory they are to take. We guarantee that by the end of the article, you will have a better idea of if it is in your best interest to take an internship. Are internships mandatory? Let’s find out!

What is the Concept of Internships?What is the Concept of Internships?

Internships are a way for a student or budding worker to get their foot into the industry of their choice. Their entry barriers for high school and college students getting an internship are much lower than getting a job in the same field. Internships are meant to let students and newcomers into the industry. The low barrier to entry does not mean that internships are lesser, however. In fact, internships are incredibly important for you if you want to better secure a promising career in the field of your choice.

An internship would have you be neck and neck with your peers and future employers in the industry. While the content of the internship itself does not compare to having a full-time job, the benefits of internships are significant and will pay dividends when you find yourself in the position to integrate into the industry fully. The benefits of an internship include:

  • Getting hands-on experience that can put what you learned in school to the test.
  • Networking with various people in the industry, who can help you find a job or position you are best suited for.
  • Paid internships give you the means to provide for yourself in the future, the same as any conventional job.

In other words, internships are important.

But it does not matter how important they are if getting an internship is mandatory. Indeed, there are careers in which you need internship experience to progress at all. But what is a mandatory internship, and what field of study requires you to take one?

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Internships

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Internships

Internships, in most cases, are entirely voluntary ventures. Many companies and employers see having an internship as something that enhances a potential employee’s resume. Additionally, few schools and colleges require an internship for you to gain your degree and graduate. However, there are always exceptions; depending on where you want to work, you should always be aware of them.

Mandatory internships must be done alongside your regular studies, which compounds the workload you have to complete. The University of Mannheim has mandatory internships for students in the School of Humanities, specifically for students pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Culture and Economy, Romance Languages, Literatures, and Media, but not for Bachelor’s students in English and American Studies CELLS.

If you are a graduate student pursuing a Master’s Degree, then you will likely have to complete a mandatory internship to earn that degree. This makes sense, as graduate students are already seeking an even higher level of education than undergraduate students.

Mandatory internships are usually not as demanding as optional ones, but they are an obstacle between you and leaving your school or college without worry.

For those who can graduate without needing to complete an internship, however, you are undoubtedly thinking about how much you would be missing out on if you didn’t have one, considering how important it is for some fields of study. So can you graduate without internship experience? More importantly, how is your future career impacted?

Can You Graduate Without Internship Experience?

Can You Graduate Without Internship Experience?

In the vast majority of high schools and colleges, graduation does not involve an internship at all. You can graduate without ever taking an internship. But the better question is if there is any reason to want to graduate without internship experience.

Your four years of high school or college are a time where you are wrought with lectures, homework, and exams, which leaves you few opportunities to take an internship outside of summer classes or have an internship integrated with your school work. In many respects, it is more economical to focus on completing your classes or work than deviate from taking an internship.

There are, in fact, many different alternatives to taking an internship. Depending on your field, schedule, skills, and interests, some of these alternatives may be more beneficial than taking an internship. Let’s find out what these alternatives are, shall we?

What are Some Alternatives to Internships?

What are Some Alternatives to Internships?

An internship is not the only way to help you build your career, though it is very helpful. There are several different alternatives to an internship that you can take; these choices are often much cheaper and easier to get into. The even lower barrier of entry does not mean they are less useful, however; in many cases, these alternatives can be an even better fit for you than an internship!


Your experience and work through volunteering are yet another point towards your resume. As the first alternative to an internship, it would be very lucrative to volunteer work. Volunteer work is, of course, free, and many fields do not count volunteer work as credible experience. Still, volunteering is where you can assist important causes, such as charities, and get to know new and different people. Depending on your field of work, volunteering can be incredibly lucrative for you, perhaps even more so than an internship.

Learning Skills

Skill building is a great option to help you perform in various fields and industries. When you are not in class or at an internship, take the time to develop some skills individually. Learning new skills will significantly improve your capabilities and give you a better idea of what is expected of you in your line of work. When you are done making yourself better at your future job, employers will be much more willing to have you aboard.

Do Freelance Work

Freelancing is a lucrative option for students and workers pursuing careers in English, writing, and generally creating products. When you go freelance, you are your own employer. You can receive clients and customers who are willing to take your work. The experience you gained from freelance work can also be put into a full-time position—if you’re lucky enough, a client may be the big company you’ve always wanted to work for. However, freelance work is nowhere near as easy as it sounds, and it takes a lot of discipline and, more importantly, patience before you begin to see consistent work.

Getting a Part-Time Job

It may seem contradictory to advise getting a job when people typically pursue internships to get a good job. However, you may still need to provide for yourself while looking for those opportunities. Taking a part-time job is still a valid alternative, even if it’s not the dream job you want. Finding a part-time job in your field is still possible if you are willing to look and take it—the experience will be precious! If you are a high school or college student, you may also take the opportunity to take a job in the summer and fill out your time between semesters.

Take Some Time Off

All work and no play will make a dull boy, or at least that’s how the saying goes. Tirelessly working yourself is not good for your physical and mental health, and while some may call it “lazy” or “unproductive,” we cannot stress the importance of taking time off for yourself. When you do this, you can learn and explore much about yourself, including what you want to do in the future. And when you find yourself fully rested and rejuvenated, you can jump right back into your career or major with a renewed sense of purpose, something that your peers can read off of you.

Wrapping Things Up: Are Internships Mandatory? 

Are internships mandatory? Some, yes. Depending on your studies, they may require you to take an internship. For the vast majority of students and workers, however, internships are not mandatory. And while not having an internship means that it will be much more challenging and take longer for you to get your career on the ground running, there are several different alternatives to taking an internship, each as lucrative, if not more so. If you want a fulfilling career, there are so many options for you! You do not have to feel restrained!

Want to read more about internships? We’ve got a range of articles that may interest you.

How to Find Internships for College Students?

The Internship Do’s and Don’ts for High School Students

What Courses Require Internships?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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