Many students may be questioning whether or not it’s worth it to participate in an internship or other experiential learning opportunity during college. Some students may think they don’t have enough time, they’re not prepared enough, or they’d rather wait until they graduate and find a full-time job. But in today’s job market, an internship might just be the best way to stand out from other candidates. On top of that, an internship, co-op, apprenticeship, job shadow or other part-time work experience can be beneficial in other ways as well:
Learn what you like
An internship is when someone works for an organization for a designated period of time. It’s almost like a test run for a full-time job. You get to work in a specific role to learn what you like, what your good at, and how to apply your skills in a professional setting. On the flip side, you might also learn what you don’t like and what you don’t “want to do when you grow up.”
Opportunity to take risks
Now is the time to take risks. Students can test out different industries, companies, and learn about different roles to better understand where they fit in. After you earn your degree, you’re expected to know what role fits you, and what company you want to work for. It’s hard to do this without earning real-world experience through an internship or co-op. Internships allow you to experiment, make mistakes, and grow from them. For example, if you intern within the healthcare industry during college and realize it’s not for you, you can easily adjust your career path, so it directly applies to what you want to do. Once you’ve settled into a home, get married, and have a family, it can be much more difficult to take risks and change career paths.
Grow your professional network
As you gain new work experiences, you’ll be working with a wide variety of professionals in a wide variety of settings. This can help you determine if you want to work with a lot of people at a big organization or have a more personal experience at a smaller company. Internships also give you the chance to learn from others and gain valuable advice. Someone you work with may have a job that interests you. Use them as a mentor! You can learn more about their experience and ask questions along the way to learn how you can make this a reality for yourself. When working with professionals, you’re continuously adding people to your network. These people can be references in the future when looking for a full-time job. They can attest to your work ethic, skills, and professionalism.
Get hired quicker
Internships and co-cops are a chance for students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom, to a real-world setting and gives them the freedom to show off their skills in a different light. Through this experience students can build their portfolio with all the great work they’re doing. They can then show this to employers when applying to full-time positions in the future. Students with an internship/co-op experience are 20% more likely to get an offer than those students without such an experience. With real world experience under your belt, it’s much easier to make the transition to a full-time job upon graduation.
Make more money in the future
Students who participate in an internship or co-op experience make, on average, a salary 20% higher than students who don’t. Employers understand that hiring brand new employees without previous experience will extend their training and delay productivity. Most times, employers would rather pay more for candidates who already know how to do their jobs and work in professional settings.