What Is the Value of Doing an Internship?

Intern and mentor
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Internships provide opportunities to experiment and pursue careers that match academic and personal interests. There are many benefits to completing an internship including the development of strong teamwork skills balanced with learning how to work independently. Internships also offer students the opportunity to explore jobs that match their academic and personal interests.

Learning About Industries

While interns must "interview" for an internship position, they should also be "interviewing" their potential employer to ensure the internship is in an industry that matches either an interest or an ability. This is a great way to test-drive your interest in. Let's say you're interested in broadcast television. Through an internship interview, you may discover that network TV is too fast-paced and hence too stressful for you.  If you decide that network TV is not too fast-paced and suits your personality then by all means, try to get the job.

And remember, an internship, while unpaid, is a job! The benefit is, if you get the job, you are test-driving your interest in an industry while earning a college degree.

It's All About Networking

Internships are a great way to build a professional network of contacts. Developing a good working relationship with your immediate direct report (as well as managers, colleagues, and interns) can be invaluable once you enter the workforce. Being invited to industry events, being introduced to others in your industry and hearing about different job opportunities is a part of every career no matter what field you work in. As long as you develop a reputation for being responsible, hard-working and have the right social skills you will succeed at developing a network of contacts.

However, it's important to remember that developing a contact is not the same as keeping a contact. Contacts, like plants, need to be nourished. Be sure to stay in touch with your contacts even if it's an annual holiday note or email updating them about your career and life. And don't be shy about sharing personal information.  We spend so much time with work associates they become a big part of our lives.

Building a Resume

Internships are a great way to build a resume before you enter the workforce. As a matter of fact, some schools require students to complete internships before graduation. Even if that's not the case for you, being able to list skills necessary in your chosen profession will set you apart from the competition and give you an edge in the marketplace. It's important when describing an internship that you are specific about what tasks you performed and the benefit to your employer.

A Stepping Stone

Many employers look to their own interns as the best potential candidate for a full-time position because they are a known entity and the intern already knows something about their corporate culture. Also, the less time an employer has to spend training a new hire the happier they are. Training is time-consuming and time is money.