Personal Finance

15 Biggest Benefits to Having a Summer Internship

Businessman drawing Internship conceptSummer’s coming. For many students that means it will soon be time to hit the beach and party under the sun. No more classes, tests, or homework. But stop a second. Is that really how you want to spend YOUR summer? As you prepare for finals and figure out whether you’ll be heading home or finding new living arrangements closer to school, you probably haven’t given much thought to your long-term career goals.

Well maybe it’s time you started. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished your freshman year, either, it’s never too early to get a jump on the career plans you have for after you’ve graduated from school. You may be thinking about taking a paying job to support yourself during the summer months, but how does that fit into your professional goals? If it doesn’t then maybe you need to rethink your game plan and consider getting a summer internship instead.

More students have decided to forgo the paid summer gig to take an unpaid internship instead because of the many incredible benefits that come with it. Finding the right internship opportunity isn’t all that difficult since almost every college or university has a career center that offers to help students find an internship position in the field that they’re interested in pursuing once they’re out of school. There are also a myriad of online resources available and major companies and subsidiaries in all industries often post internship opportunities on their corporate websites or social media pages. Do a Google search and you’ll come across entire websites dedicated to providing students with hundreds of thousands of internship openings both throughout the U.S. and even abroad.

If you’re considering a summer internship but aren’t quite fully convinced yet, check out this list of the fifteen biggest reasons why it’s a great idea.

1. Explore Your Chosen Field

It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and learn about a specific field in theory, but it’s another to actually go out there and live it. Summer internships can provide students with hands-on experience in a real world setting so that they can actually work in the industry of their desired profession. Some students intern with a company or an organization for the summer to glean an incredible amount of knowledge from people who work in their chosen field.

It can also help them decide what facet of that field they wish to work in, ask questions dedicated to that corner of the industry, and work alongside experts who will instill in them precious insight that simply can’t be attained in a classroom. Doing something is always more beneficial and enriching than just reading about it or discussing it in a hypothetical situation. Interning will provide an accurate portrayal of what daily life is like working in a particular industry.

Even more of a benefit, you may intern in your potential profession and realize it’s not for you. Better to change your major now than realize you spent four (or more) years working hard to earn a degree just to break into an industry you really don’t like after all.

2. Hone Your Abilities

Internships aren’t just about getting some much needed first hand experience in an industry, they can also help you fine tune your skills to excel in that field as well. Interns can sometimes be viewed as free labor and are given a myriad of jobs and responsibilities that may range from the incredibly mundane to the educational and informative.

But no matter whether you’re tasked with grabbing coffee and taking lunch orders or assisting project managers on meeting a crucial deadline, you’ll have the opportunity to put on many different hats within the organization, all of them helping you hone the relevant skills needed to become a productive member of a workforce once it’s your turn to enter the job market. Students can get their first taste of being part of an office environment or get their feet wet (perhaps literally) working out in the field or on location in their chosen profession.

3. Learn to Be a Professional

School can teach you a lot of things to prepare you for your future, but what it can’t give you is the proper education on how to work with others and behave in a professional environment. High school and college are not the real world, so getting some experience working with other professionals when you’re away from the classroom will help you acclimate to how things operate in your chosen field.

An internship can help teach you how to conduct yourself in a workplace setting, give you the tools necessary to work with different types of personalities of co-workers, and perhaps most importantly, provide you with the chance to contribute alongside other employees in an organization or company to see a project all the way to completion. You may even be an instrumental component to help get one off the ground. You are theoretically going to be working in this environment for a lengthy period of your lifetime so it is better you start to learn the routines of how business is conducted there now.

4. Network

All of the benefits that I’ve listed thus far are some of the best and most constructive reasons for taking on a summer internship. But perhaps the most relevant and necessary of all lies in the opportunities you can find in networking with colleagues within your chosen industry.

They say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and in just about every field out there it couldn’t be a more apt adage. Getting in the door is tough no matter what it is you want to do with your life. Interning with an organization or company relevant to your professional pursuits will put you in touch with the right people who may be able to help you get your foot into that door when you finally do graduate.

Impress the right individuals and they won’t likely forget you when it’s time to ask them for a reference. Getting a recommendation letter from someone working in your chosen field will prove far more helpful to you than something from a relative or acquaintance with a strong background that may have nothing to do with your industry. Employers are always assured when someone they feel that they can trust has something great to say about you and your skill set. It’s even better when a potential employer is someone with whom you’ve worked for (or with) in the past, like during a summer internship after your sophomore year. Even if that individual isn’t in a position to hire you him or herself, they may be able to get you in a room with some who is currently looking to fill a full time job down the line.

Ethnicity Business People Career Job Search Concept5. Land More Job Interviews

That’s right, an internship can help you get more interviews when you hit the pavement seeking that first job in the industry. Resumes play an important role in helping you land any job, but since you’re just graduating from college all you really have to show them is a degree (or at least a diploma), right?

Wrong! Not if you can show them you also took part in a summer internship (or two or three) over the course of your education. A summer job working at the pizza joint or flipping burgers shows that you committed to something in order to sustain yourself while you were in school, and that’s perfectly fine. But that’s all it is – fine. If you want to impress a potential employer and show that person you not only have what it takes to be an asset to their organization but the drive and ambition for the profession, you can show them that you sought out the necessary and pertinent experience within the industry during your schooling instead. That will go a longer way towards convincing them to hire you than the lifeguard gig you had at the beach that one summer a few years ago.

Sometimes an internship can be even more beneficial in getting you hired than just having it listed on your resume. Studies have shown over 75% of companies hire individuals who have already participated in their internship programs to full time employment. So applying for and getting that internship after your junior year could very well turn into a new job once your senior year is finished.

6. Combine Your Experiences

Internships have a lot of benefits that can help you in a professional manner, but they can also provide useful and valuable academic benefits as well. The first of which is by allowing students to combine their experiences in the classroom and professional settings to get a complete and well-rounded education. Lessons taught at school are a great basis for providing a strong foundation for learning, but being able to apply those lessons in a working environment can help towards fully understanding complex concepts and theories that are inherent to many college majors.

Doing while learning paints a more thorough picture for students who are training to become active working professionals in their chosen field. Internships are the best way to gain that supplementary insight and proficiency and not only will you gain strong experience, your grades may improve as well!

7. Apply Your Education

An internship will not only help you understand your classwork better, it also allows you to practice the lessons you’ve learned during class time in a professional setting. Teachers are sometimes limited in their capacities to impart everything there is to know about what they are teaching you in class. But when you get an internship you can apply what you’ve learned in actual scenarios that are germane to your education.

Chemistry majors working in a lab can see theories and experiments attempted and performed instead of just discussed in a class. The same goes for just about any college major; finding the right internship to support the training you’ve received lets you flex those particular muscles by using what you’ve learned and seeing it in action for the first time.

8. Stay Motivated

As we learn and grasp the various concepts, ideas, and theories we learn during our educational careers, every one of us begins to feel more gratified and confident, not just about what it is that we are learning but in the learning itself. That helps motivates us to continue to strive for success. The frustration that can set in over an inability to decipher a tough algebra equation or comprehend the themes of Shakespeare may set some people back from staying motivated to learn.

Internships provide a basis for inspiring students to want to keep learning because they offer a way for students to gain confidence and exercise their skill set in a way that improves their knowledge. Confidence is born out of stacking success upon success. Finding that approval through a summer internship program can prepare students not just for a professional career ahead but to return to school in the fall where they can build upon their confidence and knowledge to gain more of both through their education.

9. Build Your Confidence

Speaking of confidence, a summer internship can be a tremendous confidence builder for the road ahead. In fact, you can do a few different ones to gain a wealth of knowledge in a number of areas and they can prove to be a great help in helping you pursue what it is you really want to do with your life. The diversity of your internships will also show potential employers that you’re eager to try new things. All while giving you the poise to present yourself with the self-assurance of someone who has gained multiple types of experience, used that know-how in the pursuit of their degree, and is ready to apply that wisdom to carry out the duties of their job.

10. Decide on a Career Path

Let’s face it, some students don’t know what the heck they want to do with their lives. There are millions of young people on college campuses across the country who are still trying to figure out their life and career goals. Not everyone knows what they’re going to be when they grow up at the age of seven. In fact, the majority of students who enter freshman year are entirely undecided about a major or career path for when they graduate.

That’s what makes a summer internship program so valuable. It can provide undecided students the chance to live out a few scenarios that interest them and to experience various occupations and career paths as they try to decide which is the right one. Some students may not find their calling even after they graduate, but interning can alleviate some of those decisive pressures by helping them identify which internships they excelled at in the past and what they didn’t embrace as readily. A summer internship doesn’t just prepare you for the career you have in mind, it can also help you find the career you really want but just aren’t aware of yet.

Simple doodle of a money thought bubble11. Get Paid

Not all summer internships are unpaid opportunities. There have been some minor controversies as of late as to the definition and nature of unpaid internships. Lawsuits have been filed against major corporations by people who feel they have been taken advantage of in some capacity.

The theory behind internships has long been considered a symbiotic relationship between an employer and an employee, usually college age, who gains entry into a profession or industry and is paid through knowledge and experience. The employers certainly benefit as well by hearing new ideas and fresh perspectives and, yes, there is the component that they are essentially getting work for free by having interns do jobs that might strain the company’s resources which would be better placed elsewhere, both financially and through physical manpower.

Yet despite the age-old cliche of interns working for free, there are a myriad of companies out there who actually do offer some form of compensation for the duration of a summer internship. It may be monetary or it may come in other forms such as merchandise or products, compensation offers vary greatly depending on the organization. But yes, you can get paid in a summer internship program.

12. Get Paid More

According to some recent studies conducted over the past five years, new employees hired right after college who participated in one or more internship programs were offered a starting salary approximately 19% higher than those employees who did not gain any relevant experience interning. Employers were willing to pay more to these new hires because they had the knowledge and training that every successful corporation looks for in its workforce.

You have to pay a little extra to snatch up the right people who will prove to be an asset to the company. Employers have stepped up to the plate with higher compensation offers for individuals who were part of an internship. You can literally get a better paycheck simply for doing so.

13. Get College Credit or Certification

While some internships offer compensation of some sort, many more offer college credits or some other type of certification for students to apply to their studies. Gaining credits or certification is a useful way to meet the requirements of a course while also gaining the experience that comes with a summer internship. Course credits not only help to reach the requirements needed to graduate, but it also alleviates the need to spend tuition money on one more traditional classroom course. Those credits can be valuable as the light at the end of the tunnel of your college career begins to come into focus up ahead. If you can get the credits and some kind of compensation as well, then you can really benefit from an internship.

14. Strengthen Your Graduate School Application

Employers aren’t the only people who are going to consider whether or not you participated in a summer internship when they decide to hire you. Graduate schools put just as much importance on your past internship experience when they make a decision to accept you into their program or not. So you can find yourself having a much easier time of getting that acceptance letter along with that potential employment opportunity after you finally graduate if you decide to get a summer internship first.

15. Improve Your People Skills

A summer internship is a great way to help you improve your people skills. No matter what field you choose, an internship is going to put you in touch with a wide variety of people, be it co-workers, customers, authority figures, vendors, and so on. The importance of developing this crucial aspect of your professional persona cannot be overstated as just about every job that involves a daily interaction with people requires you to possess strong people skills.

This may sound like an obvious trait to focus on and maintain, but you wouldn’t believe how many students underestimate the need for good interpersonal skills when they’re looking for a job. Participating in an internship program can provide you with the opportunity to hone that skill set and make you a more attractive candidate when you apply for that first job or any other jobs thereafter.

Our Final Thoughts

Summer internships can be a beneficial scenario for both students and businesses alike. The many advantages listed above are just some of the core rationale behind exploring the many possibilities for internship opportunities available in a field that interests you. In addition to these, you may have your own reasons for finding a good internship position.

Any organization that offers you an internship opportunity will benefit as much as you from the relationship, not just for the potential for low cost labor but in the the opportunities that exist for the company to participate in the educational process, gain an infusion of part-time employment, and evaluating these new temporary hires for possible full time roles within the company later on.

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