Internships are an extremely important addition to a university student's resume-arsenal. An internship can be paid or unpaid and can be a great opportunity to develop industry-specific skills, gain real-world work experience, test-drive a chosen career path, establish professional network connections and allow a recent college graduate to gain an advantage over their peers by developing character and professional development.
Completing an internship allows a university student to test drive their chosen career path. Most recent graduates have never actually worked in their field of interest. Internships allow a young professional to experience the everyday life in their future career.
The subtle etiquette of a work environment is a big change from campus life and the more experience a person gains the more at ease he or she will be when it comes time to apply for a professional job. Applicants that have been productive in an office can easily show their value. This value is apparent through quality portfolios, glowing recommendations and the confidence that can be gained through hard work at a paid or unpaid internship.
Internships open the door for many networking opportunities. The old adage, "it's not what you know, but who you know," applies to many job hunting situations. Take this for example; two recent graduates are looking for a job. Student A has superior grade scores but has not professionally networked at all. Student B has average grade scores but has spent countless hours participating in clubs, student organizations and volunteered their time in exchange for hands-on experience. Student A has to put in applications everywhere in the hope that someone will see the value of his or her resume and mock portfolio. In the meantime, student B gets a phone call from a former internship colleague who has a position available. Student B has an advantage because he or she has already proven their worth to the prospective employer.
This situation can work any number of ways, and the employer doesn't need to have actually worked with the applicant to see their value. Including these networked professionals as a reference can gain the same results. Interning students also have access to make quality mentors who are more than willing to share their knowledge with interested and worthy young minds.
Mentoring opportunities can be found by being genuinely interested in the work being done, and in those who you are working with. Asking relevant questions and remaining on task will earn respect from those you cross paths with while in the office. Engaging those around you with intelligent conversation is valuable, but it is important to do more listening than talking.
A University internship is a valuable source of work experience and portfolio additions. Including a professional internship on your resume is a good way to set yourself apart from other recent graduates. An employer automatically knows the prospective employee has been "battle tested" and will be able to perform basic office duties with practiced ease. This is often more evident with internships at smaller organizations.
These internships allow the student to take on more responsibilities rather than getting coffee and making copies at larger, better-known organizations. Nonprofit organizations and small companies are happy to employ interns. Their small budget makes them a perfect fit for a cheap or free intern.
Another characteristic which helps these organizations match well to an internship program is their ability to allow an intern to experience a variety of working situations. These varied tasks enrich an intern skills set and a professional portfolio.
There are many codes of conduct that aren't taught in a university classroom. Putting yourself in an office environment allows you to learn to coordinate your schedule with others. Things that seem petty, like lunch hours and days off should be scheduled with co-workers and relevant supervisors. Be available for the shifts that no one else wants because a great impression is made if you make your co-workers and superior's jobs easier. This keeps you from seeming self-entitled and shows others in the office that you are here to be a helping hand instead of an obstacle.
In an office, many different personalities converge in a quite small place. Sometimes, emails or discussions can be interpreted in different ways. Keep in mind that work is work; it’s not always a personal attack. Control your emotions and take a deep breath! If you really think that you can’t control yourself… Talk to your supervisor about it!
University is the perfect place to learn self-reliance and independence. An internship is a perfect place to put those qualities to use. During the college years, students mold their intellect. During an internship, a student begins molding their characters.
A good combination of the two can have a huge impact on the rest of your career. Procrastination during classes may get you through your lessons, but procrastinating in the real world will teach you a lesson! One must find the motivation necessary to focus on the job at hand. If a boss assigns a project then it must be a top priority.
Hanging out every night, and then beginning a project one or two days before it's due will get a passing grade in school, but to an employer, the lack of effort will show. Errors due to: lack of preparation, research, and proofreading, are drastic when it comes to an internship because an honest manager will not give you a letter of recommendation that is undeserved.
About the author: Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond.
Published on by Daniele L.