Career, College

Why You Should Do An Internship

March 2, 2009

Recently, a friend of mine who is a senior in college told me of the situation they are in. With just a couple months remaining before they graduate, they are scrambling to find a job. After spending months sending out resumes and going to career fairs, they have gotten very few interviews and no job offers. My friend, like so many others who are soon to graduate are worried that after 4 years of sleepless nights studying and hours thinking if they were in the right major, that it may all have been for nothing. While it is an exaggeration to say that it has been for nothing, to some that is what it feels like. The best way to describe this could be through an analogy. Imagine you are training to be a pilot. After four years of training and hard work, imagine now that airplanes have become obsolete. Would it not feel like you had spent all that time for nothing? This is the same kind of feeling that some of my friends have expressed.

For those of you that are in the situation where you are graduating soon and are unable to find a job, the question that you must think about now is “What will I do next?” My advice is to find an internship. Speaking to a friend of mine who works at a career center, they told me that one of the common reasons that students don’t apply for internships is that they assume that internship’s are a waste of time and that it is just ‘grunt’ work with no pay. While this may be true in some situations, it is not entirely correct.

The main difference between internship positions and full-time/part-time job positions is that internship programs generally don’t pay their participants. Instead, interns are usually offered school credit. In some situations, interns actually get paid for their work. Now that I said that, I must recommend that to anyone who is looking for a job just to pay the bills and to strictly make money, not to take an internship.

Internship programs are offered as a learning experience for individuals who are interested in learning more about a career path they are interested in. This is one of the best parts of an internship. Unlike jobs where you are expected to have a somewhat firm understanding of the work, internship programs teach you the in’s and outs of the job. If you are a college student, internships are a great opportunity because of the flexibility that many companies offer. Companies know that most interns are balancing work and school, so they always want to make sure that school comes first. When you have a job, they worry only about your performance in the work place, not how you did on your chemistry test.

For college students, one of the biggest issues when applying for a job is the lack of experience that they have. There are two ways to address this. The first is to identify this early on while you are in college. As a freshman all the way through your junior year of college you should be attacking every internship opportunity that comes your way so that you develop the skills and experience for when you are going for that full time job offer. If you are already a senior in college and realize that you don’t have the experience then the best strategy that you can do is to jump into an internship right now. With the economy not helping the job hunt, college graduates with no experience are facing an uphill battle. With companies looking to save money, many are more than willing to give students a chance to earn some experience in exchange for course credit. In some situations, some companies don’t even require students to get course credit for their internship.

The biggest advantage I think that students can get from doing an internship is getting their foot in the door with an organization they are interested in getting a full time job offer with. For interns that are dedicated and work hard, they are sometimes rewarded with a full time job offer at the end of the program. I myself was able to get a full time offer from Future Delivery upon completion of their internship program and am currently working with them to promote and build fun and creative tools for students and young professionals.

For any student or young professional that is looking to get into an internship program here are some tips and advice that I learned during my internship program:

  • Email Etiquette

    • One of the key things that students forget when writing to recruiters and employers is that they are not your friend. Using instant messaging lingo like “lol” and “thx” are not acceptable. Remember that everything from how you address others to how you structure your emails reflects what kind of applicant you are.

  • Cater Your Resume

    • A common mistake that most students make when applying to an internship is that they send the same resume that they would send to a full-time job position. While this is okay, it is helpful to cater a resume to the learning aspect of an internship and also to list relevant experience or coursework that relates to the internship.

  • Time Management

    • As mentioned earlier, internship programs are very flexible and understand that you are still in school. Still, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to go to meetings because you would rather go to a party. Internship programs want to choose candidates that want to learn and be there, not students that want just want to get credit for it. Remember that just like a full-time job, companies will cut you from their internship program at anytime.

  • How To Find An Internship Position

    • Many schools have their own job listing database that employers will list their internship programs on. I highly suggest that you start your job search here. This is the main hub that companies will list their programs on because students are their main target for internship programs. Another tip I would suggest is that even though a company doesn’t have an internship position posted online, it never hurts to call their human resources and ask them if they have an opportunities for students. It is hard to turn down a students desire to learn.

Using an analogy one more time, an internship program can be thought of as training wheels for your career. Given the option of jumping on a bicycle with no prior training or the option of jumping on a bicycle with training wheels, which would you choose? I’d take training wheels any day.

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  • Reply marie tsuda March 2, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    oh, it’s me ~

    over there 🙂

  • Reply Akhila November 10, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Honestly, I don’t think anything you’re saying here is new news. Don’t all college students have it drilled into their minds now that we need internships if we’re going to get a job after graduation? I seriously don’t know one student who plans to work after graduation (not pursuing med school, other immediate grad school plans, etc) who hasn’t had at least 2 internships during their summer, if not more. I think this is common sense.

  • Reply JosephYi November 10, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Thanks for the comments Akhila! I actually wrote this at the time for some of my friends who were seniors at the time and we’re left with few options.

    I think that not all college students know that they should be doing internships. Perhaps it depends on the institution that they attend and the guidance of others, but there are students out there who are still in the dark. Also, I know plenty of college grads who went straight into a job without doing internships thanks to their stellar grades. Also, if it is commons sense, why don’t all college grads do it? Hopefully with jobs becoming more competitive due to the economy, students will be motivated more than ever.

    Thanks for the comments!

  • Reply Akhila November 10, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Yeah you are right. Perhaps it depends more on the institution you attend. At least at my school, I feel like it’s an extremely competitive atmosphere, and most people are looking for internships for their summers before graduation. It probably also differs across majors, but I still have to say that most of my friends (even at different universities) have done multiple internships if they plan to enter the workforce after graduation.

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