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Why Internships Are Smart to Pursue During Your College Years

The importance of gaining experience during your college years and the impact it will have when you need a job

Donna Gibson

Life goes as such: eat, sleep, live, and enjoy. We know this. These are the basics rules. But let’s make “We Are Young” by Fun the theme of this article. Yes, the ballad of young adulthood.

They tell us to enjoy it while we can because once it’s gone; it’s gone for good. But I’m not here to lecture the masses. Well, not about this at least. Instead, let’s explore the “live and enjoy” part of life.

Remember, we are not paying and borrowing thousands of dollars just for education. Going to school to become smarter is great, but you can always just go to the library if you want to expand your knowledge. What you really want is a degree.

But that piece of paper is really just a novelty when you think about it. You graduate, get your degree, and hang it on a wall. What it represents is that you are qualified. Still, despite the cost of an education that can run upwards of $100,000 it’s experience that truly counts.

It’s the thing that let’s your employer know that you are not just a candidate for the position, but the candidate for the position. This is where internships come into place.

Yes, the dreaded “I” word. We know all the negatives of interning explicitly. There’s little to no pay, menial labor, and the consumption of valuable time. Find time out of your busy life to work for company for free?  However, rather than thinking about how internships can hurt, think of how they can help. Internships can get your foot in the door to amazing opportunities. Also, internships can be a much-needed trial period as well as a great way to network. Altogether, an internship is much more beneficial to you than it is to the company.

Being educated and having a degree does not guarantee a job. Employers need more than whatever mental capacity you had to graduate. They need you to be applicable to the job. How else are you useful without experience?

Watching “How to Drive a Stick Shift” tutorials is a great foundation to get the gist of it. But you can’t really learn how to drive a stick without hands-on practice. We can equate this to school and working. They need to know that you can be successful in the real world. Internships give you a bit of first-hand, real-world experience.

Internships are like a tryout before you buy career package. Why not use the time you have in school to explore your options?  During internships you get a taste of what the career you are interning is like.

As you do this, you can decide whether or not this is the career path for you and still gain the experience for your résumé.  Also, you can talk to your counselor to see if the internship can give you academic credits.

You will work face-to-face with the people who are in the position that you want. Talk to them and ask questions about how you can get to where they are. Ask them what they would have done differently and if they have any other advice for you. Everyone loves a chance to tell his or her success story. The internship is there to help you. It’ll enhance your time management skills and open the door to so many great opportunities. It’s a learning experience.

It’s not the kind of learning you’re in school for, but it’s the learning that your employer actually cares about, experience. Take as much as you can from your internship, be vigilant and attentive, and do as many as you can handle. The more experienced you are, the better.

Category: Op Ed