For decades, students trying to land a job out of college have been confronted with the conundrum that employers want to hire beginners with experience, a true chicken-and-egg riddle. Internships have solved the riddle.
Today, internships are becoming part of the new hiring ritual for some companies, almost like a pre-interview. Without one on your resume, employers may think that you’ve skipped a step.
Here is a look at seven ways an internship can significantly improve your chances in the short term by getting a job right out of college and in the long term for career advancement and success.
#1. Possible academic credits. The benefits start in school. Many internships result in academic credit. These “for-credit internships” get you closer to a degree without having to pay more money for tuition.
#2. Resume builder. According to the National Association of College and Employers, NACE, almost half of all employers are positively influenced by seeing an internship on a student’s resume.
#3. Real work experience. Employers look favorably on job seekers who have had internships because they know they have practical experience in the field, not just book theory. Survey results reported in Forbes showed that more than 60% of employers place relevant work experience higher in importance than academic standing.
#4. Higher potential salary. Because you already have on-the-job experience and because you have had a chance to show employers how you perform, those who are hired after an internship often receive a higher starting salary, reports The New York Times. Because it improves the look of their resume and shows initiative, it puts them on the fast track for better paying positions, increasing lifetime career income potential.
#5. More likely to get hired after graduation
According to a study done by NACE, 40% of interns in the Class of 2013 were hired full time by the company where they interned. When you perform well as an intern, you are seen and evaluated on a day-to-day basis by people who make the hiring decisions. When it comes time to fill a position, you are automatically at the front of the pack.
#6. Networking and establishing relationships with mentors. Chatting at the water cooler, trading stories over lunch, saying hi in the elevator with the influencers happens daily when you intern. That kind of casual contact is golden. It leads to chances for mentoring and networking with influencers in the company and the industry.
#7. Learn what you like and what you don’t. Sitting in a classroom discussing the theory of a career choice is much different from being on the job and actually practicing it. With an internship, you can safely experiment, discovering what you enjoy, and what you are good at. Likewise, you learn quickly if you couldn’t tolerate it day after day as a career.
Don’t be put off by the idea of a number-crunching, mind-numbing internship. They come in all shapes and sizes, appropriate for many interests. How about interning as a bird keeper at the zoo? Like to play in the mud? Consider a horticulture internship at a theme park.
If you are motivated and enterprising, you can find an internship for just about anything. And if you can’t, make your own. Approach a company or group that interests you even if they don’t have an internship set up. Tell them how you can help them and offer to be their first intern. Put them in touch with your school so they can make it official.
If the company you want to intern with is hundreds or thousands of miles away, don’t give up. Ask about a remote internship. Virtual internships are very common in today’s interconnected world. They are easy to arrange with email, chat, skype, and other digital communication. Since almost every company has an online presence, these are very common in the area of marketing, public relations, and writing.
Through our Talent Network, Colaraz enables students to search through thousands of paid internships, summer internships, and for-credit internships at outstanding workplaces country wide.