From Classroom To Boardroom: The Benefits Of Internships

woman dressed professionally sitting at a computer as she applies to internships

Internships propel students from the theoretical world of textbooks and classrooms into the practical realm of professional experiences. This hands-on immersion allows you to acquire valuable skills and knowledge directly applicable to your field of study. It’s like a “test drive” of a career before you graduate, offering a glimpse into the real world of your chosen field.

Stereotypes of coffee runs and photocopying are outdated. Today’s internships are packed with real-world experience, in-demand skills, and, yes, even dream jobs. In a recent survey, 87% of interns reported feeling their internship directly contributed to their career development, with 62% landing full-time positions at the same company.

Internships Help Gain Practical Experience

School drills you with theoretical competence, but real-world experience paints a whole different picture. This is where internships shine. There’s nothing better than soaking up knowledge from seasoned professionals. You’ll learn their secrets to career success, glean wisdom from their mistakes, and even decipher industry jargon an asset for nailing interviews.

Internships aren’t just resume boosters, they’re stepping stones into your career. So, why settle for textbooks when you can walk alongside the experts? Grab that internship opportunity with both hands and pave your own path to professional fulfillment!

Explore Career Options

Internships allow you to get firsthand experience in different industries and roles, helping you discover your interests and narrow down your career path. You can gain a clearer understanding of what you enjoy and don’t enjoy in a workday. Additionally, unexpected skills might surface during an internship. Maybe you discover you have a knack for public speaking or an aptitude for problem-solving. There can be a lot of self-discovery in an internship.

Gain Professionalism Through Your Internship

Internships are a training ground for becoming a polished professional. Professionalism is so important in today’s competitive landscape. It will be what sets you apart because it demonstrates your maturity, reliability, and dedication. This makes you a more attractive candidate for employers. Additionally, professionalism is a reflection of your personal values and integrity. It showcases your commitment to fairness, honesty, and ethical conduct, earning you respect and admiration.

Here are some ways to use your internship to elevate your professionalism.

1. Dress for Success: First impressions matter! Research the company’s dress code and err on the side of professionalism. Aim for neat, polished attire that aligns with the company culture. (Think crisp button-downs, tailored trousers, or stylish skirts and blouses.) Remember, your appearance reflects your commitment to the role and the organization.

2. Communication: Clear and concise communication is key in any professional setting. Hone your communication skills by actively listening during meetings, speaking confidently in presentations, and crafting well-written emails and reports.

3. Punctuality: Being on time demonstrates respect and reliability. Arrive early for meetings, deadlines, and work shifts. If unavoidable delays arise, inform your supervisor promptly and professionally. Consistency in punctuality builds trust and shows your dedication to your work.

4. Participation: Don’t be afraid to take the initiative. Ask questions, suggest ideas, and volunteer for additional tasks. Show your eagerness to learn and contribute.

5. Embrace Feedback: Feedback is a gift. Welcome constructive criticism with an open mind and use it to grow as a professional. Ask clarifying questions, show your willingness to improve, and implement feedback in your future work.

6. Positive Attitude: A positive attitude is contagious. Approach your work with enthusiasm, resilience, and a willingness to learn. Your positive energy will create a pleasant working environment and make you a valuable asset to any team.

two hands shaking as they create a network from an internship

Build Your Network 

Internships offer a unique and incredibly valuable opportunity to build your professional network, essentially laying the groundwork for your future career. Working directly with individuals in your field allows you to build strong relationships. These mentors can provide guidance, feedback, and recommendations, opening doors to new opportunities.

Chances are you will meet other industry professionals. Attending company events, participating in team meetings, or simply striking up conversations creates a wider network beyond your immediate team. You never know who might have valuable insights or connections.

Internships Boost Your Resume

Let’s face it, your resume can feel like a blank canvas staring back at you, especially as a fresh graduate. We have all been there. However, having an internship will give you a more competitive edge because it will fill those gaps with tangible work experience. It will showcase your ability to contribute in a professional setting.

Potential For A Full-Time Job

Internships are often only seen as valuable learning experiences, but their potential goes far beyond that. They can be the gateway to your career. Companies often look to their interns for full-time positions when openings arise. Your internship is essentially an extended interview, showcasing your skills and work ethic firsthand.

Types Of Internships

With a vast array of internship opportunities available, finding the perfect match depends on your specific interests and career goals.

  • Paid vs. Unpaid: Paid internships are more common, but unpaid internships can still be valuable, especially if they offer prestigious or relevant experience. According to a 2016 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, more than 56 percent of graduating seniors reported taking part in at least one internship. Of those respondents, 56 percent were paid, while 44 percent were unpaid. Seventy-two percent of those unpaid internships were credit-bearing.
  • Academic vs. Professional: Academic internships are often connected to your coursework and supervised by faculty, while professional internships are with businesses or organizations in your field.
  • Short-term vs. Long-term: Internships can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year, depending on the program and your availability.

The job market is competitive, and it can be a tough learning curve for recent graduates. Internships are a fantastic way to bridge the gap between academic learning and professional experience. They can help you discover your career direction, build your skills, and make yourself a more competitive candidate in the job market. Learn How To Get The Most Out Of Your College Internship Program.