Trying to have a social life amidst classes and exams can be hard enough. Throwing an internship—especially a non-paid one—on top of that? Too much hassle, right? Wrong.
When I graduated, I thought employers would care that I made the Dean’s List every semester of my college career. I thought they’d care that I was a Resident Adviser, a tutor in the Writing Center, and a writer and editor for my college’s newspaper.
What they did care about was that I was an intern.
Don’t get me wrong. Being successful in class and getting involved in various activities and organizations can set you over the edge. It can help you get the job, especially if it’s down to you and another applicant. When you graduate, though, the first thing employers look for, after having a degree, is that you had an internship.
If you haven’t interned yet, it’s time you do—but do you have time?
Make the Time
Every semester of my college career, I took at least 19 credits. The most I ever took was 22. With all that course work, two jobs, a serious boyfriend, and trying to have a social life, I understand if you think you don’t have the time to swing an internship.
Trust me, though. You do, and if you don’t, you need to make the time.
This might mean cutting back or readjusting your course load for a semester or two. It might mean giving your boss your two weeks’ notice or decreasing your hours. It might mean having a real talk with your significant other and letting them know you can’t talk and hang out as much. It might even mean, dare I say it, not attending as many social events.
Whatever it takes for you to participate in an internship, do it. You won’t be sorry.
5 Reasons Why You Should Make the Time
The benefits of interning are endless. You are a step ahead on your career path. You will grow, not only as a future employee, but as a person.
Here’s 5 reasons why you should make time for an internship:
1. Employers hire applicants who have interned.
As previously explained, employers will check your resume for your participation in an internship. If you haven’t had one, it could be difficult to get the job.
2. You will learn necessary skills outside of the classroom.
I sent out tons of magazines to subscribers at my internship. I packaged, rated, stamped, and organized mail to send to all over the world. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, I know, but as a person who is horrible at sending holiday and thank-you cards, it was to me.
I also learned that note-taking is not just for the classroom. (Go ahead and write that down.)
There are thousands of skills you’ll learn as an intern that you didn’t know you needed. It’s better to learn them in a learning-friendly space than on the job.
3. You’ll better manage workplace relationships and deal with conflict.
Communicating effectively and in a professional manner with coworkers can take practice, especially if you’re an introvert like me. What can take even more practice is dealing with workplace tension and conflict.
I dealt with tension and conflict various times at my internship. I dealt with it when my writing wasn’t up to par. When I kept making the same mistakes over and over (again, people, take notes!). When I felt stereotyped (but that’s a whole other article).
As an intern, you will most likely have to deal with conflict a time or two. Even if you don’t, you’ll learn to communicate to dispel tension.
4. You’ll grow your network and reference list.
Speaking of relationships, having an internship allows you to make connections with people already successfully working in your field. If you develop those relationships over the course of your internship, you’ll have connections besides your professors (though they are great too).
Not only will these be the people you ask for advice about your career path, they’ll be the ones you can use when your future employer asks for references. (So make sure you carry yourself in a professional manner during your internship and stay in touch even after it ends!)
5. You’ll learn new terminology and the ins-and-outs of your field.
I thought I knew a little about the publishing world from my college English classes and as an editor for my college’s newspaper. At my internship, I found out that I didn’t know a little. I knew absolutely nothing about publishing.
No matter what field you’re in, you will find out the same thing: you don’t know half as much as you think you do.
That’s why taking on an internship is worth it. You’ll learn the ins-and-outs of your field that you would have otherwise missed in the classroom. Yes, an internship, like the classroom, is a learning environment, but it’s different too. You’ll apply what you have learned in the classroom at your internship, while you pick up new skills.
Sounds good, right?
Even if you think that you don’t have the time for an internship, make the time. Your future self, who has graduated from college and is working a full-time, engaging job in your field, will thank you for it.
Now clear that schedule, and set up an internship!
Morgan Vega Gomez, Recruiting Assistant, Career & Academic Planning