Summer is almost upon us, ladies and gents. While for some that means sun, fun and heading home, others are gearing up for a taste of the professional world. These three months off are prime time for college students to put themselves out there for companies to typically use as free labor and call it “experience.”
Currently, lots of students are beginning to make housing and financial plans for their upcoming opportunities, while others are waiting with bated breath for company responses. But no matter where you stand, there’s a high likelihood you’ve wondered about the importance of internships at some point. Are they worth the hype?
Well, if you ask Bradley students, it seems so.
Melissa Wyas, a sophomore psychology and political science double major, said internships are a great way to explore what careers are available. Wyas worked on campus as the social media intern for the Admissions Office, as well as the volunteer and marketing coordinator for Late Night BU’s programming team.
“It’s nice to test the waters of what you might want to do after graduation,” she said.
Interning in your desired field is an inside look at the profession you believe you want. Studying a field and truly immersing yourself in it can be two very different experiences. Wyas attested to this.
“I’ve had experiences where I’ve left thinking, ‘This is not at all what I want to do,’” Wyas said. “It helped me get one step closer to figuring out my path after graduation.”
Once you know where you want to be, internships become a great way to get your foot in the door.
“They are a great chance to step out of your comfort zone and even begin networking,” senior marketing major Jayce Espinosa, who interned as a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual, said.
Whether it’s a simple LinkedIn connection or a new letter of reference, meeting individuals in your line of work could make a world of difference. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
If someone established can vouch for the work you do and the way you do it, you’ve put yourself ahead of the graduates nobody knows. Internships give you a distinctive quality over your fellow recent grads who are vying for the same entry-level position. Internships are real experience. They’re beyond the classroom work with people you aren’t paying to tolerate you.
That means internship references are based on what you can practically do in the workforce opposed to how well you can pass classes. People you’ve interned with can attest to your work ethic and capabilities alongside academic references makes you more than just a student, but an actual member of the professional community.
Having these connections could be the one thing that sets you apart from the potential hundreds of other applicants with the same degree.
Strengthening your resume with applicable work experience, gaining contacts that can give you non-academic praise, and figuring out if you’re really studying what’s right for you makes internships a great option during college. With potential payoffs like reference letters or even job opportunities, it sounds like internships can back up their hype.