Have you wondered why students do internships? Why everyone in college seeks one? Then you have come to the right place. If you are in college you know a lot of people trying to get an internship for reasons unknown. Just because others are doing it.
Oxford dictionary defines an internship as:
If you are in college you know a lot of people trying to get an internship for reasons unknown.
Ok, so that is the technical definition of it. But why to do one? I too was baffled by the concept. But after doing my first internship in my freshman year, I understood what the fuss is all about. Why people seek one and how it can help you shape your career.
In this article, we will go through 10 reasons why everyone should do an internship in college. How it can help you, what is the purpose of an internship and what are the steps you should take to find one. I will also receive a FREE internship timeline and cover letter and CV templates which you can use for yourself when you subscribe to my list at the end of the article.
1. Helps You Find Your Path
Internships are the looking glass into the work sector. By doing them you will be able to understand the industry you are going to and what it brings. You can either go for a research internship or a corporate one. Nonetheless, you will understand what the place has to offer.
For many, it is an eye-opener. Let us be real when you first go to your field of study did you know all that it has to offer? For many, the answer is no. They have an illusion of what the subject you have taken is going to be but not what it really is. An internship will help you understand that.
Moreover, you will be able to see if you are made for the corporate world or for research. Many students after trying their hand at research in their field absolutely loved it while others who tried it and later went on to industries for their internships found that research is not meant for them. This is how an internship can help you find your path.
Now you must be wondering, how in the world do I apply for one? What is the process? Well, you don’t have to worry. Go on to the article 5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience where I teach you step-by-step on how to apply for a research internship. It also applies to corporate jobs. You can also complete this article and go to this article once you are done.
2. Learns Skills They Don’t Teach in College
Now, this is somewhat a bitter truth. Yes, you won’t learn every single thing in college. The college will give you amazing opportunities, great education and a bit of practical knowledge, but an internship will tell you what is the everyday approach in your field of study.
For instance, after my first internship, I was introduced to Computational Fluid Dynamics, a subject taught in the third year of college. I had to work on software called Fluent by ANSYS. Had I not gone for an internship, I would never have understood the software. Yes, I would be aware of it, but I wouldn’t know how to use it. This was something that was not taught in college. Similar situations arise in all universities.
So you see, internships can really help you get real-life exposure and introduce you to your field of study.
3. Get Work Exposure
Classes in college will teach you a lot; about your subject, about how it can be applied etc. You might also work on a number of projects in college. But even working in a variety of projects will not introduce you to having work exposure. For that, you need an environment that can simulate all the actions that come with doing work in a job.
This can be accomplished by an internship. There you will learn work ethic, how to interact with other employees, how to speak to seniors, how to meet deadlines. You will also get a taste of the usual 9-5. You might have little more work, which I will cover in the post 5 things I wish I knew before my internship due to be released next Thursday. If you want to keep updated subscribe to my email list at the end of the post and to get the free internship bundle.
4. Learn About the Job Market
Before I begin this, let me define what a job market is. A job market is – so to speak – a virtual space where you can look up opportunities and employers look for people to hire.
You might be wondering, ‘But this is possible while at home too’. You might be right, but an internship will be able to give you first-hand experience. It will teach you how to apply for jobs (the process is similar), it will add to your profile, once you get the internship you get a first-hand experience at how the job market looks like.
Internships don’t come easily. If you get one that means you have the potential to do well in the job market as well. Getting an internship will introduce you to people who have been there longer than you and can help you understand the market better.
Having applied for internships will make it less scary when you start applying for jobs.
5. Gain Team Work Skills & Confidence
When you get an internship you will feel a sense of accomplishment. Especially when you get it for the first time. Now, you might be thinking, ‘ Is it so important that you get such a feeling?’, but trust me it is. Try for yourself! Such sense of accomplishment will definitely help you gain self-confidence.
An internship will make you aware of who you are and what it is you want to do. Completing tasks given to you will make you more confident in yourself. The question that lingers at the back of the head of many “Can I do it?” will now be answered. You will understand if this is something you want to continue with or not.
It will also teach you how to work as a part of a team in a professional setting. It might be a little different from the team projects you do in college. Here the projects have real-life application and will be used directly or indirectly in the betterment of something. It will teach you how to be a part of a team.
6. Communication Skills
Confidence goes hand in hand with communication. As I stated in point 5 along with improving confidence an internship will definitely aid your communication skills. For those who do not like to and want to stay in their bubble, this is a great opportunity that will let you get out of your comfort zone.
I know, it is better said than done, but it will actually help you. You will learn how to speak to your seniors at work and to your peers. You will learn how to talk in a professional manner and setting which might be difficult in college. Giving presentations in internships are quite different than in college. In university, the stage is set. You have a protocol which you have to follow. As might already be aware of what your prof needs.
Presentations in internships might be different. Each workspace has their own set rules. This will lead you to communicate better and hence aid in improving your skills. Other than presentations you might need to converse with others on a day to day basis which will help you work on your speaking skills.
Back in college, many know you. You might be shy to try out something new. An internship provides wonderful opportunities to get out there and try something new.
7. Face Challenges Head First
Although this might be true to college as well, it does apply for internships too. Here you will be greeted by those dreaded deadlines, but here you will not have a clear algorithm to complete them. The setting is different so is the work you do.
You will face a lot of challenges, some which you might not have faced before. But that is the beauty of it. Because you are an intern you are not expected to know everything (anything actually) so you have a grey area of learning. The challenge here is to surpass it and excel at things thrown your way.
New things pose new challenges. You will understand what challenges a work environment poses which might differ from college. Whether it is learning new software or learning a new system, you will have to overcome these challenges and rise. Even if you are not able to complete some of them, you will understand how the system works so you can work better in the next one.
8. Explore New Places and Yourself
This point is not really directed towards the work aspect but is more towards life. Internships are great opportunities to explore not only jobs but also to see more places. You can do an internship in any place you want, apply anywhere you want to.
Many students look for internships abroad so they can tick something off their bucket list. Now I am not necessarily saying that this is what you have to do, but it is a great opportunity to explore a new place.
It is also a great way to explore yourself. You have been either in the comfort of your home or in the comfort of your friends till now. For maybe two months you are all on your own. You get a chance to make new friends, understand yourself better. My internships have definitely helped me to understand myself better. They have been great opportunities for me to understand my strengths and weaknesses and have helped me learn from my mistakes.
9. Looks Great On the CV
It is true that good internships look great on your CV. They tell your future employer that you have some sort of work experience and you can accomplish your goals when placed in such a setting. It tells them that you have used your free time to hone your skills and explore new opportunities.
Now I do not mean and I say it repeatedly across my internship articles, do not apply for an internship for the sole purpose of adding it to your CV, it is not going to work. Not only will it lead to not getting a good Letter of Recommendation from your boss but might add negatively to your CV if you are doing it just to make it an accolade you can add in. A purpose of an internship is to understand what you want to do something and why. If that is not your purpose, it is better to not apply for one.
10. Adds Credence to your Profile
As said earlier, this is not why you should be applying for one. Because if you go for the sole purpose of adding mere credibility you won’t be able to work effectively.
That being said, if you do great work it adds credibility to your profile. It shows that you have a plan. Even if you apply for higher education later on maybe to graduate school, internships are a way of telling them that you worked in a different environment and did great. This builds a sort of trust between you and your future employer.
11. Work at your Own Pace
Many try to do this in college as well but the burden of exams, papers, assignments can halt it. There you have assignments, exams etc. If you look at research internships, you can work at your own pace. You have to study, not for the sole purpose of exams but to gain knowledge in your field of study which you can apply to your research.
You have to set your own goals, your own deadlines and your own limits. The only factor you are limited by is time. But this does not mean that you laze around and do nothing. It is a wonderful opportunity to understand your pace and see where you are headed towards.
Now corporate internships might be a little different. You do have to submit reports which are synonymous to assignments in college. But you still have to set your own deadlines and learn how to work at your own pace without the fear of exams which affects many. Setting up your pace and understanding it is great for the long term as well.
An internship is a great way to get to explore the different fields of study in your branch. You will understand if this is what you should do or maybe you should be doing something else. It will also help you figure out where you stand in the market and help you define your goals accordingly.
If you are unsure of your field of study, you should definitely go for one. It will help you get an answer to this dilemma as the experience will make you aware if that is something you want to do or not.
How To Start The Process of Getting an Internship
Start as early as possible. It is a myth that you should try from the second year of college, but that is not the case. You should try for an internship even if you are in your freshman year or college. Summers can be spent working on an internship and winters to find one.
Now I will not discuss it in detail as I have already written an article on the steps you should carry to get one. I have also made a video which you can watch if you don’t want to read further. Just go to 5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience where I take you through the step by step process of applying for an internship.
Do subscribe to my email list to get the free internship bundle pack which includes a timeline, a CV template and a Cover letter template along a lot of other freebies to get started right away.
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Have a great day!
Some related posts in technical me section are:
How to Write Undergraduate CV for Internships
7 Best Steps to Write a Cover Letter for Research Internships
5 Steps towards a Research Internship for Students with No Experience
5 Greatest Research Tools Every Graduate Student Needs