10 Reasons to Complete an Internship

By Sarah Hildebrand

Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

There are many reasons why both current students and recent graduates should consider completing an internship, including both personal and professional growth. Below is a list of 10 reasons why completing an internship might be beneficial to you.

10 Reasons to Complete an Internship

1. Explore a New Career Path

Internships are a great way to explore a new career path in a low-stakes way. Internships are generally short-term commitments meant to help you get your feet wet within a new industry or role. Doing an internship early on in your academic and/or professional career can help you gauge your interest in a particular career path and decide whether or not you want to continue pursuing it.

2. Expand Your Professional Network

In a time when most jobs are gained through networking, completing an internship is a great opportunity to make connections within a field. You will build relationships with colleagues and supervisors who might be willing to serve as references or provide referrals later on. They might also be able to introduce you to others in the field or similar roles who can help you learn even more about the field and potential job opportunities.

3. Develop Your Skillset

Internships are great learning experiences. While they might allow you to apply a skill you already have, they will also allow you to develop new skills along the way — both technical skills (such a data analytics) and soft skills (such as teamwork and communication).

4. Identify Your Priorities

When searching for a job, it’s important to weigh your priorities, which include not only the skills you’d like to use and field you’d like to be in, but your values and overall preferences when it comes to work-life balance. Getting a sense of a professional workplace can help you identify aspects of a job that you like or dislike, which is important information moving forward. By the end of an internship, you will likely have a good idea of whether a particular role, organization, industry, or type of supervisor aligns with your overall career goals.

5. Build Your Resume

Many students struggle to write resumes, especially if most of their experience stems from their educational background. While it’s totally possible to write a stand-out resume rooted mostly in educational experiences, many companies love to see that you have practical work experience, as well. This proves that you are capable of holding down a job in industry, and that you’ve been able to apply what you’ve learned to real world situations.

6. Learn How Your Advanced Degree Can Function in Industry

Students often struggle to articulate how their advanced degree can play out — and pay-off — in industry. Completing an internship can help you see how your advanced degree can be put to work and serve as an advantage in the workplace. This can help you later communicate the value of your degree to other employers who might not be as familiar with the benefits of advanced degrees.

7. Build Confidence

It can be intimidating not only to begin a new full-time job, but even to enter into a full-time job search. Pursuing and completing an internship can help you learn more about these processes. Throughout your search, you will gain experience in writing resumes and cover letters, interviewing, and communicating with potential employers. Completing the internship will also help boost your confidence in utilizing some of the skills you’ve learned in graduate school.

8. Get Your Foot in the Door

While this is not true of all companies, there are some organizations that use their internship programs as feeder programs into full-time positions. Some companies prefer to exclusively hire past interns with whom they already have relationships and have evaluated in the workplace. Having previously worked for an organization, even in a part-time capacity, can give you inside information into its inner workings that could help set you up for success in future job documents and interviews if you decide you enjoyed your work there enough to want to continue. Beyond the particular company you interned for, you have now also leveraged your way into a particular field or industry, making it easier to pursue roles in other organizations, as well.

9. Receive Feedback

Throughout your internship, you will likely receive feedback from colleagues and supervisors that can help you grow as a person and a professional. This is invaluable information as you work to improve yourself and enter into future job searches.

10. Gain Academic Credit

Some internships are paid, but many are not. One way to get the most out of your internship is to complete it for academic credit. Each Fall semester, The Graduate Center runs a course called IDS 81620: Scholarly Praxis at Work in the World, which allows PhD and master’s degree students to receive academic credit for internships done outside of the academy. This class is unique in that the majority of your work will take place in your internships, which should take up 8-10 hours per week.

This is a great space to talk about your internship, identify key takeaways, and troubleshoot any issues. It’s also an invaluable opportunity to hear about the experiences of your classmates, which may inspire you to pursue additional career paths or explore organizations you might not have heard of before.

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