Most students know the value of an internship during college, but fewer can predict that they may end up applying for one after graduation. While there’s much debate about the fairness of unpaid internships, the truth remains that many companies currently rely on interns to fill their entry-level positions.
College graduates do have a better chance of landing a paid full-time internship than when they were students, but the pay will still be less than stellar. While it’s not an ideal first job out of college, there are some major professional benefits to interning after graduation. So before you start feeling dejected about your post-graduation job prospects, consider these three advantages to pursuing an internship:
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1. Build Your Resume
Interning is not the most fulfilling work, but it is a pragmatic and useful way to becoming a more hirable employee. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door of a competitive business, and can help build your resume while you gain experience in a field or at a company where you may not initially be considered for a salary position. Hiring managers will generally not think of you as a viable candidate unless you have relevant previous work experience. But you can supplement your resume with an internship, which will improve your future prospects of getting hired for a staff position.
In addition to building your resume, you’ll also have the chance to expand your professional network while interning. Most internships are designed with built-in networking but you can create your own opportunities, too. Attend all the open meetings, lunches, and after work social events that you can and make as many connections as possible. Forge strong professional relationships with your direct supervisor, as well as co-workers or fellow interns who may become valuable contacts or references for your subsequent job search.
3, Trial Run for a Career
Beyond building your resume and network, an internship gives you the possibility of trying out a job and determining if it’s a good fit for you. Interns have the freedom to explore a position or industry, without having to make a full-time commitment or signing a long-term contract. You can gain insight into the daily requirements or technical aspects of a job before you decide to dedicate yourself to it completely.
During an internship, you may come to realize that you’ve idealized a certain career or that you’re not actually as passionate about an industry as you previously believed. Or you may decide that you do like the field or company where you’re interning, but that you’d prefer to switch departments. Regardless of the conclusion you come to, interning gives you the opportunity to discover what you do and don’t like about a certain profession. It gives you the chance to determine what kind of work best suits your personality and skillset.
If you’re a young and recent college graduate, an internship can give you the time to discover what kind of work you’re really capable of and interested in doing. Once you begin to feel that you’ve got a better grasp of your goals and abilities, you can start to look for more substantial work. After you’ve completed your internship, you may find that you’re a more assertive and motivated job hunter because of your new-found professional knowledge.
Javaher Nooryani is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. She has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in English & American Literature from NYU. As a former tutor and advisor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is glad to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college.