Internships: Why They’re Important For College Students

Long hours, no paycheck, and a foreign city far from your friends. Sound like fun?

Cutting-edge experience, job security, and networking that could last you through life.

It might sound like I’m talking about two completely different things, but believe it or not, I’m actually referring to the wonderful phenomenon we call INTERNSHIPS.

Don’t think an internship is for you? Well, if you’re in or about to be in college, think again!

  • Practice Makes Perfect

Remember that old phrase your junior high basketball coach screamed at you daily that went something like, “Practice makes perfect!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that as cliché and false as it may have seemed, your coach wasn’t lying to you. As a matter of fact, this is the same idea you should have towards your college experience!

You can sit in lecture as the most attentive student in the building, ace every exam, and even end up with a kick-butt 4.0 to slap on your resume as you begin your pre-graduation job search.

But I have news for you: Good grades alone will not get you the job.

So listen up, whether you are still in high school and rolling your eyes, or are in college and wondering why the heck a 4.0 wouldn’t get you that dream job: This pertains to all of you.

  • What Exactly Is An Internship?

According to my good friend, Merriam-Webster, an intern is, “an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field (as medicine or teaching) gaining supervised practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom).”

An internship gives you cutting-edge experience, not to mention confidence in the area you hope to graduate and work in. You may be learning lots from your professors and books, but can you apply that to your actual career? An internship will let you know!

  • Why An Internship?

An internship is the best way to get to know the industry you believe you want to have a career in someday, while determining if it’s right for you, and providing you with tons of experience.

Experience backs up your good grades. While good grades do say something about you (throw those plans of slacking off out the window), experience that utilizes what you’ve learned says so much more about your capabilities.

It says you can apply what you’ve learned, combine it with your personal attributes, and meet the expectations of the real world, where your peers won’t be cutting you any slack because you’re a busy, stressed college student.

Around 50% of internships in the U.S are unpaid (that’s right, no paycheck), but may throw in a stipend to help interns with living expenses, still posing a challenge to college students already scratching the bottom to make it by financially.

However, according to The Business Insider, that doesn’t seem to be stopping the nearly 75% of college students who take at least one internship during their undergraduate years.

  • Where Can I Find An Internship?

Rising entrepreneur, Lauren Berger saw just how crucial internships were for college students when she began her website, www.internqueen.com.

This website is fun and easy to navigate, even for the laziest of college students.
With just a few clicks and blanks to fill in where, when, and what field you’d like to intern in, page after page of internship opportunities are available at your fingertips.

These pages include the location, information, and expectations of the prospective company you’d be interning for, plus the most important part: how to apply.

Of course, this is not the only place for college students to search for internships. Your college’s academic advisor may have an abundance of opportunities waiting for your inquiry.

Just keep your eyes and ears open, and most likely you will be creating your own luck in the process.

  • What Is An Internship Like?

Long, unpaid hours of unfavorable work and a glimpse at the dirty working world are just some of the challenges interns have to rise above. However, it isn’t always that bad.

On the flip side, an internship could take you anywhere in the world, provide you with a once in a lifetime networking opportunity as you work with older and wiser individuals in your industry, and even in this tough job market, get you graduating with a job!

See my last article for more: Is The Cost Of A College Education Worth It

  • When Should I Intern?

Although historically internships were given to upperclassmen only, many advisors (including mine!) suggest that it’s never too early to start looking, even as freshmen.

There are many times in the year that interns are wanted. Summer internships are probably what you’ve heard the most about, but often the most convenient internships are available on or near your college campus, making it convenient to intern even during the school year.

Also, with the wonderful world of the web, some internships don’t even require your physical presence, just you and your capabilities to work with technology to get the job done. Some of these opportunities include blogging (speaking from experience!), or writing for your college’s admissions blog.

  • Final Thoughts

It may sound like a lot of unpaid work, but trust me, an internship is one of the most rewarding things to list on a resume, especially if you got something out of it. So start mapping out your summers now!

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Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor

Kaitlyn Taylor is a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in Spanish. She comes from a small farm town of 1,000 in West-Central Illinois, making the transition to a large campus challenging. At school Kaitlyn is involved with the University’s Women Glee Choir, and also sings in her Church choir and is involved with her residence hall’s Resident Board. She enjoys writing, biking, and volunteering.
Kaitlyn Taylor

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