The True Value of an Internship
Internships teach valuable skills, giving you a head start
The best part of an internship is that it teaches a young person about a specific industry and company. In high school, the only professional experience you might have had was washing dishes at the local diner. Other than visiting your parents at work, you probably had no idea what a real office environment was like. You were green, unseasoned, not even remotely ready to wade into the real business world.
An internship gives you an opportunity to learn the ropes in an environment where everyone knows you're new at this, and – ideally – they'll mentor you and give you a guiding hand.
If you're lucky, your internship position will place you right at the heart of the action. If your goal is a career in public relations, you can watch employees hustle about, pitch their ideas, cold call the media, write press releases, brainstorm in meetings, and do so much more. It can be like a front-row seat to your potential future. Not only will you have an opportunity to watch and observe, but at some point, someone will give you a gentle push into the driver’s seat.
A good internship will give you hands-on experience with the company. You might be able to try writing a press release or two on your own, or maybe to organize large press kits. You might even be entrusted with making an attempt at a media pitch call. These are all tasks you would have never had the opportunity to do in your dorm or inside the classroom.
You'll probably go into your internship knowing nothing about public relations and leave feeling like you know everything. An internship can give you a well-rounded hands-on education that you wouldn’t receive otherwise. Maybe you don't think too much about the future when you're in college. After serving an internship, you should be much more focused and motivated, as though someone gave you a crystal ball so you're now able to look directly into your future. An internship can show you what your life could be like after college, and that can be pretty inspiring.
If You Hate Your Internship
Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that the internship you were so hungry for turns out to be awful. Every student is different and has his own interests and goals. If you end up with an internship in a field that you don’t love, that’s OK. You'll still learn more about that field and you'll know that it's not something you want to pursue after graduation. It's better to find out now than later.
Think of it this way – you're spending time figuring out your future now so you don’t have to waste time doing it after you graduate. You can turn this into a learning experience and still walk away with a great resume builder and professional contacts. And remember, people change jobs every three years on average, so you never know where these professional contacts will end up.
Everyone has to start somewhere. When you're talking to successful people, you’ll find that many started with an internship.