Every student has been advised at some point to expand their experience and résumé
through internships, yet many graduates enter the workforce without having ever completed one. We traditionally think of students when discussing interns but in actuality anyone at any age looking to make a career change or gain experience in a field different from their own can become an intern.
Internships can be paid or voluntary and for this reason, some are unsure of the value of an internship or are concerned about investing time in an oftentimes unpaid opportunity. Others just don’t know how to search for an internship or feel that they lack the qualifications necessary to secure one. However, the benefits of internships far outweigh the uncertainty they may cause. In this post we’ll provide an overview of the benefits an internship can provide to jumpstart or enhance career opportunities.
Academically, gaining in-depth knowledge about a specific career path through an internship can save a student a lot of time. It is a well-known fact that many students change their major, sometimes more than once, before completing their degree. Quite often this occurs because the student doesn’t really understand the field they are aspiring to and whether their chosen path of study and the ensuing career is a good fit for them. Many people change jobs for the exact same reason.
An internship is a great way to learn whether the student or the career changer is well-suited to their selected field.
In the case of a student, if it turns out that they might be better matched to a different course of study, they can course-correct earlier than a student who chose not to pursue real-world experience until after graduation. This try-before-you-buy technique could also alleviate several painful and unfulfilling job changes and an internship may turn into a full-time position or be used to create networking opportunities for a new job (see our article on professional networking here).
Interning in their chosen field allows students and professionals alike an invaluable opportunity to turn theoretical knowledge into practical skill.
Most employers want on-the-job experience because there are nuances to actually “doing” the job that can’t be learned in a classroom.
These types of opportunities provide real-world experiences while still in school or before leaving a current position, both giving job seekers an edge as they look towards new employment prospects.
The professional benefits of an internship are clear: it provides work experience and networking opportunities that enhance the job seeker’s value in the eyes of potential employers.
In fact, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook for 2021 Report, “students with a paid internship received nearly 50% more job offers”.
The networking opportunities that students gain during internships are very valuable, as they both improve the student’s likelihood of being hired and present examples of the daily experiences that they can expect in their chosen field. Getting an understanding of the industry culture can be just as important a factor as whether or not the work itself is appealing and interesting. While many students and individuals looking to change jobs shy away from internships due to uncertainty or lack of motivation, they are one of the most advantageous academic and professional strategies that can be applied in the job search process.