College students need to balance work, friends, family, and assignments. It can be easy to overlook the critical importance of getting great internship experience. However, in today’s competitive economy, it is crucial that students make an internship a top priority.
If you have a relevant internship displayed on your resume, it will give you a competitive advantage over all the candidates applying for the same position. Employers understand that graduates that do not have any practical experience may lack the skills required to excel on the first day of their employment. Employers value internship experience because they provide students with the skills and experience that they cannot acquire in a school setting.
Before discussing why internships are so important, there are a few things you must know:
The Best Time to Search for an Internship
Surveys suggest that the best time to start searching for an internship is right before you start your junior year. This way, you will have two years to complete competitive internships before you graduate. Many companies start hiring interns for the summer up to one year in advance. So, the ideal time to start looking for an internship is now!
How do you pick out the best internship?
When beginning your internship search, there are a few things you need to consider. You need to ensure that the internship you are choosing is related to the field that you wish to go in once you graduate.
A majority of academic majors list down all the possible career options that the student can choose to go for after getting the degree. By undertaking great international internships, you will be surrounded by mentors that can teach you everything they need to know about a given career path.
Don’t let location stop you from interning for an organization that can possibly open professional doors for you down the line. If you find a valuable interning opportunity abroad, take it. There’s a lot you can learn from interning abroad and the experience can help you strengthen your resume.
Should money be a factor?
It is understandable that some students might not go for an awesome internship opportunity because it’s unpaid. However, doing so can end up being a mistake as it significantly limits the opportunities available.
Don’t let money be the deciding factor when you’re thinking of interning. Gaining useful experience is what you should be aiming for. Whether, an internship is at a local organization or abroad, think of the value it will offer to your resume or CV. Here are some of the top benefits of completed your internship:
Higher chance of finding a great job
Since interns have more practical experience, they are more likely to find employment once they graduate. By doing an internship, students learn effective communication skills, discipline, and efficient management of time. Often, an internship can directly lead to a full-time job at your host company.
In the case that you are not hired for a full-time position, your internship will still help you create a network full of references from the individuals you worked with. Such references can provide you with recommendation letters and introductions that will help you to find new opportunities.
It helps you find what they like to do
By doing an internship you learn the things you would prefer to do and the things that they aren’t necessarily interested in. A profession might seem exciting at first, but with a lack of experience you might not know if it’s perfect for you. Not doing an internship is a big mistake because you might get stuck with a job that you aren’t passionate about.
Internships have replaced on-campus recruiting
More and more firms have started to use their intern programs instead of using on-campus recruiting. An internship is basically an audition in disguise, not only for the company but also for the student as well. It is the ideal way for both sides to test out if a working relationship is possible. Internships provide both sides the opportunity to test out a new relationship for a short time before committing to it fully.
You get to work in a real environment
College students that complete an internship have a great advantage over those that don’t. They learn how to apply the knowledge that they have gained in the classroom into the workplace.
Internships give you the chance to test-run the knowledge that you have gained while learning new skills in the process. Moreover, internships give you the chance to learn more about the industry you’re interested in which is impossible to learn within a classroom.
This is best understood with an example: There is an employer who is looking to hire a person as a business administrator and they have two candidates to choose from. The first candidate is a student who has graduated with honors and has a high GPA. Meanwhile, the other candidate has a comparatively low GPA, but they have two internships under their belt where they worked as an intern for a business administration department.
Who has a better chance of being hired? It is highly likely that the person with internship experience and good references is hired
It is clear that having some internship experience makes you stand out from the competition. Employers prefer to hire those coachable candidates that can transition easily into a workplace. Internships are the best way to show potential employers that you can function well in a work environment.
Grades cannot measure work ethic
From a very young age, students are trained to get best grades possible. However, having good grades does not guarantee that you will be a great employee. According to research, on average, 43% of students will receive a A in their college courses.
Due to the drastic increase in the GPA, many red flags have been raised up among employers. As more students graduate with a GPA that is on the high end of the spectrum, employers are questioning whether or not students are challenged enough in their studies. For this reason, the majority of employers now favor internship experience over GPA or course work completed to identify top candidates.
You can show employers how dedicated you are
If an employer has to choose between two candidates for an entry-level position; one that has done numerous internships, and one that has not done an internship, the employer will almost always choose the candidate has more experience. Internship experience shows the employers that you are committed to a career in the given industry.
It is unfortunate that numerous students have a passive attitude when it comes to their education. They tend to overlook the importance of having an internship experience and they don’t take advantage of opportunities to volunteering on campus. Even if it is impossible to get internship experience, there are numerous opportunities for learning skills through volunteering such as leadership and teamwork.
You are equipped with more than just skills
The biggest challenge that employers have is hiring candidates that can make a positive impact from the beginning of their employment. In fact, 39% employers state that the lack of experience is why they face hiring shortages.
Entry-level candidates that have internship experience are more likely to have the skills needed to make a difference when they start a new job. Of course, having technical skills is also important; however, soft skills like leadership and collaboration are also very valuable in the workplace. Some of the soft skills you can gain from interning include:
Interning offers opportunities for you to work with others. You might be assigned to a team of other interns or you might even get to work with full-time professionals. Working as a team can help you learn how to divide tasks and collaborate to achieve a specific goal. It also shows your potential employers that you can work well with others. While working as a team, you might get to act in a leadership role. This can help your future employer see your potential and let them know that you could be a manager or director in the future.
For you to meet your responsibilities as an intern, time management is key. While doing your college homework is required to complete a degree, it does not give you tangible business skills. Completing an internship helps you understand how to complete professional tasks. You’ll get to learn how to manage your responsibilities to meet deadlines. You might make mistakes along the way, but your experience will help polish your work ethic so that you’ll be ready for full-time employment.
Real World Business Skills
It doesn’t matter if you look like the perfect candidate on paper as your resume cannot tell your employer the things that you can achieve for the company. Employers give less importance to the number of honors you have graduated with. Instead, companies are more interested in knowing your accomplishments and how great of an asset you will be to the organization.
Telling your employer how eager you are to work in their organization and learn different things doesn’t always guarantee the job. If another candidate is much more qualified than you are, the chances of you getting the job are low.
You should aim to complete at least one internship. Once you have some internship experience, you will have something that you can share with the employer during the interview regarding your failures and success, work ethic, and ability to work with other people.
Wrapping it up
With employers looking for candidates who can easily transition from being students to full-time employees, internship experience is more important than ever. Showing an employer that you already have relevant gives you an upper hand when compared to a candidate that has no real world experience. The employer will have to invest hours of other employees time showing the untrained candidate the ropes.
Employers don’t consider academic grades to be the tell-all for candidates anymore. While receiving an ‘A’ grade might have got you appreciation from your parents, it’s not going to do much in front of an employer. They’re more interested in knowing what real-world experience you have instead of what you learned to do from textbooks.