The Importance of Working an Internship in College

Working an internship while you are still in college is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself and one of the most valuable things you can do for your career. Internships provide real world experience to those that are looking to explore a particular career, field, or industry of work. Internships also allow individuals to gain knowledge and insight into a position or into the industry that he or she wishes to work in.

Sheryl A. Swingley, who is an internship coordinator at Ball State University and has almost 20 years of experience in the field, recommends that students complete internships before graduation because their work experiences will open the doors for future work opportunities and will make it easier for students to start their careers after graduation. The National Association of Colleges and Employer’s annual survey reported that an average of 64% of interns received job offers from their internships during the five year period between 2004-2008, making working an internship a great career search tool as well.

With the economy still struggling in some industries and many college students on the hunt for suitable careers, competition becomes stiff and employers may look to grades, extracurricular activities, and internships to help with narrowing down candidates during the hiring process. For example, two completely qualified candidates with the same qualifications can be narrowed down by one of them having worked an internship in the field during college. Hiring managers are more likely to see potential employees that have worked as an intern before to be a little more experienced and feel that those will need less training and start their career already being pretty much up to speed. Interns will also already know how to conduct themselves in a professional manner, how to work together as part of a team, and will know how to identify and solve common everyday issues that will arise in the workplace.

Swingley also advises students to not wait until their last semester or after graduation to try and search for their first internship. She claims that putting off working a first internship in your field may make some professionals question your commitment to your career. She continues by saying that no matter what the economic situation of an industry or company is, employers always want go-getters and graduates who showed interest in their career and got things done while they were in college.

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