You might hear people talking about taking internships and their importance if you want to have a promising career in your future. But just how important are internships for college students? What are the benefits of getting an internship, and what should you avoid in the process of getting one?
What is an Internship for College Students?
College is a big step for many students, as it will likely be the first time they will practice real autonomy while attending lectures and navigating through campus. A student’s classes and schedule are very rigid in high school, with little room for flexibility. You are expected to come to class on time with the threat of truancy or missing an important subject. Additionally, minors are limited in what they can do outside of school, like taking a job with a good income, due to their age and lack of experience.
In college, students enter a whole new world. College students can not only choose which classes they take during the semester but also have greater flexibility when taking their classes, while attendance is less important. They can even leave core classes like mathematics and sciences for a later date.
With all this extra free time college affords a student, they can do much more. Surely, they can start taking a job, which they will likely need to help pay for their college tuition. But they can also take up an internship, where they can have their career start early. An internship is often discussed, but you will never know how important it is until you take one yourself.
We have something that will keep your attention if you are interested in an internship. We know of a few benefits of an internship as a college student that we feel you’ll enjoy.
3 Benefits of Internships for College Students
It would take an awfully long time to name every one of the various benefits of getting an internship as a college student. Out of respect for your time, we will only name three crucial benefits and advantages of taking an internship during college.
Kickstarting your career
Students attend college because having a college degree will open up various opportunities to get into the dream job of their choice. With an internship or two, you don’t have to wait until you get your Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree to start your career.
By taking an internship, you can get your foot right into the industry or field you want to work in. You get to know important people or fellow peers, get some hands-on experience, and put your theoretical lecture knowledge to good use with an internship. Internships may not be considered significant jobs for many employers, but the employer behind the computer science job you want will be highly impressed by your resume when you have listed that you took an internship with Google or Adobe.
Apply yourself and your knowledge
Another great thing about taking an internship as a college student is that you can put what you are learning to the test. As we’ve stated before, you can gain on-site experience in an internship. Through this experience, you can apply what you learned in your college courses. This includes not just core classes but your major-related classes as well.
College may teach you what your field entails, but an internship can show you what it means. If you are pursuing a law career, for example, and you have taken classes that deal with criminal justice, law, and other legal-related matters, then an internship in the law industry would have you get a first-hand look into what that knowledge and information would get you. Even if your internship amounts to sitting behind a desk and running errands for your employer, you have a better opportunity than other people in the same field who have not taken up an internship.
Networking with Others
In any field, making connections and networking is always a boon for people who want to lead successful careers. Even if your line of work has you work alone, getting yourself out there means you can more easily acquire help and assistance and know what you should and should not do in your future job.
An internship puts you in a position to get to know as many different people as possible. In an internship, you become bosom buddies with people already experienced in your field, such as leaders and peers who are taking an internship themselves or have managed to get a full-time job. As important as experience can be, it is also essential to make a name for yourself out there.
Most Common Misconceptions About Internships
Before you can start taking up internships, it is important for you to know what they do and do not consist of. There are a number of harmful misconceptions about what internships entail. Falling for these falsehoods can seriously jeopardize your decision-making and have you take an internship that you hate doing and won’t help you succeed in your future.
The first misconception is that internships are not worth the effort. This idea often stems from how many internships are unpaid or get you involved in extensive work. Some internships have you work behind a desk and not get involved with the kind of things you would want to take an internship for. These critiques have a kernel of truth involved. However, they ignore the value of networking and experience. Getting into the industry is the first step in building a career.
Another common misconception is that an internship is not a “real” job. While many employers do not hold the same value as a full-time job, and many internships only last for a set amount of time, they are generally treated as their category and still incredibly valuable. Internships that pay and get you working are considered as valuable as a full-time job, if not more so.
With these problems out of the way, we can discuss the best ways to find and apply for a college internship and ensure you get your career off the floor.
3 Tips for Finding and Applying for College Internships
Now that you recognize the importance of internships for college students, how do you secure one for yourself? Many students think the same thing, which results in a highly competitive field. The following tips are only a few bits of advice, but they are precious tips that will grant you an edge in landing an internship where you otherwise would come in second place.
Shoot for the stars: Go for every internship possible
The first and most important tip is not to let your perceived lack of credentials stop you from applying for an internship. In no place will you get penalized for applying for an internship that “isn’t for you”; if there are actual limitations to an internship, such as them wanting students of a particular ethnicity or gender, they will make it apparent to you. But if the only barrier between you and an internship is how much you think you’ve done prior, then it’s not a real obstacle. It is possible to get an interview even if your application is not all that impressive on the surface.
Build up a sizable resume
But, of course, a good resume can go a long way. Internships will look at applications that bring various skills and experiences to the table that will assist the applicant in the internship and the company’s work. College students may not have much relevant experience in their field, as any jobs you can earn elsewhere are more common, and general jobs like fast food work.
Instead, it would be best to list on your resume what you are capable of and all sorts of projects you were also working on. It is also good to include extracurricular activities you have done, like joining clubs or assisting professors on campus.
An overlooked detail about an interview is that in the age of social media, what you post and say to potentially thousands of people online is something employers take notice of—including internship employers. They can find things you say or participate in objectionable and decide not to allow you on board. The solution is to keep your social media private or, barring that, keep yourself away from controversial events or statements. When push comes to shove, you should be able to explain to the employer what your social media entails.
Wrapping Things Up: Why are Internships Important for College Students?
Internships are important for college students in many ways. They help a student kickstart their career, help them get to know people in their chosen industry, and allow them to apply their college material in a real-life scenario. If you are a college student looking to get into an internship, keep in mind the benefits and misconceptions that can keep you going. Thanks to this article, you can land an internship and begin your career early and in earnest!
Check out our ultimate internship guide for college students here.