Deciding between taking on a demanding internship and focusing entirely on school is a choice that all students need to make at some point in their undergraduate careers. In today’s competitive job climate, an impressive internship can be the one thing that puts your resume above your competitors.
Employers are looking for candidates who not only have an education but a practical understanding of their field of interest. College students who finish a four-year program but have no work experience often have a tough time adapting to the fast pace in the workplace. On the other hand, students who finish internships already have the hands-on skills they need to start a successful career with a short adjustment period and relatively little training.
Do I Really Need an Internship to Get a Job After Graduation?
While there are many factors that can affect your employability, research shows that completing a relevant internship can give you a big lead over graduates who lack real-world experience. According to the U.S. News and World Report, the current labor market is saturated with candidates who have four-year degrees. As a result, hiring managers are relying less on GPA and school status. They are focusing more on internships and other unique credentials when selecting candidates for face-to-face interviews. In fact, the U.S. News and World Report found that both university officials and employers now consider internships to be essential in helping students find rewarding career opportunities after graduating a four-year college.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Internship Experience
Completing any internship is not in and of itself enough to make you a frontrunner for finding meaningful employment after graduating. When it comes to analyzing the value of an internship, employers compare it to the position they want to fill. If you have a career in mind, try to find an internship as close as possible to the field you want to work in. Finishing an internship in your area of interest will give you the skills you need to get a successful head start in the real world. It will also give you a chance to network with industry insiders who can set you up with important connections and employment opportunities in the future.
Funding Your Internship
One of the biggest obstacles students come across when deciding whether to pursue internships is financing. Because many internships are unpaid, they can put low-income students at a disadvantage.
Fortunately, there are quite a few options available to students who need financial assistance to participate in their school’s internship program. According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, it is becoming increasingly common for colleges to provide financial aid to students who would otherwise not be able to complete their unpaid internships. If your school does not offer financial help, you can get a loan or try looking for an internship that at least covers the cost of transportation and supplies. Many companies that offer internships are willing to cover basic costs, so try asking for help if you need it.
Ultimately, it is important to look at completing a college internship as an investment in your future. While internships are often challenging and stressful, finishing one in your field of interest can prepare you for your career and help you get a unique advantage over recent graduates with similar academic backgrounds.