The Importance of Securing Internships

By Roberto Angulo

Having at least one internship under your belt will greatly improve your chances of getting a good job when you graduate from college. According to AfterCollege, doing at least one internship while in college means you’re six times more likely to have a job lined up by graduation compared to those who didn’t have any internships.

Internships add experience to your résumé and they help you get in the door, especially at highly coveted employers. Here are some of the things you get with the right internship:

  • Gain experience. They give you relevant knowledge in a field or industry. This helps convince employers down the line that you have relevant knowledge, improving your chances of getting a great first job.
  • Try before you buy. Hopefully you have great internships and value the experience you gain. But if you don’t have a good experience, this is still okay. An internship lets you figure out what an employer is like or what an entire industry is about. It gives you a reality check so you can make sure you want to pursue the path you’ve put yourself on. If you like the employer and the industry, you can keep moving forward with confidence. If not, then you have time to consider a different path and different employers before you graduate.
  • Get your foot in the door. Some employers also like to try before they buy. They invest time and resources into creating internship programs that serve as pipelines to hire new college graduates. Often, an internship can serve as your ticket to a full-time job after you graduate. So, if you have a company you really want to work for, focus on getting an internship there.
  • Make contacts. A good internship allows you to develop professional relationships with fellow interns and with the employer. If you do a good job and like the employer, you may get invited to apply for a full-time job upon graduation. You may also make contacts who can recruit you into other organizations if they decide to move on.
  • Fill your résumé. At a minimum, internships provide material to fill your résumé and they show you have experience. The employer name, if it’s a recognizable one, also adds value.

An internship shouldn’t be primarily about the money. The experience and insights you gain and the ability to list the experience in your résumé are far more valuable.

An internship doesn’t have to be full-time for you to benefit from it. If you need the money and take an unpaid internship or a low-paying one, consider doing it part-time. You can then use any remaining hours in your day to work a part-time job that pays you well.

Internships, especially good ones, are hard to get. Start looking for these early and do the following:

  • Leverage on-campus resources. Go to your university career center to see how it can help you secure an internship.
  • Start looking in the fall. Most students look for jobs and internships from January to May before they graduate. Start earlier to get ahead of the pack.
  • Use your connections. Ask friends and family connections for help. An internship lasts a few months only. Ask your parents, aunts, and uncles if they can call in favors and help get you an internship.