– Stephanie Barber
Congratulations, college graduate! You’ve got an outstanding grade point average, a killer cover letter, and the recommendations of your favorite professors – time to go land the job at Google and demand your corner office in HQ, right?
Not so fast. You’re missing one vital item on your checklist – an internship.
Welcome to the big world, recent college graduate. The most common misconception I have seen throughout my exposure to higher education is, “College will give you all that you need to land the job.” Internships have increasingly become the deciding factor in whether an employer will even give your resume a second glance. From first-hand experience, I would like to take a crack at a few internship myths. Let’s discuss why we need them, why we may think we don’t need them, and everything in between.
1. Check Your GPA at the Door
Sorry college kids, but having only that piece of paper that you will pay tens of thousands of dollars for and a stellar resume won’t land you that job on its own. Employers want to see experience for multiple reasons. Knowing you have real-life experience within the field, combined with the confidence that you want to remain within said field, allows employers to feel confident in whom they are hiring. Internships will not only instill confidence in your own skills and knowledge, but will also build confidence among potential employers.
2. I’ll Have a Grande, Sugar-Free, Vanilla Latte with Soy Milk
Believe it or not, internships aren’t always code for “professional coffee-runner.” Most internships are created because businesses actually need help with real work their full-time employees are doing. When you interview for an internship opportunity, it is the perfect time to also interview them! Make sure that you will gain useful knowledge and skills while making a contribution to the business – that’s what an internship is for.
3. Get Out of Jail Free Card
Many college students think that internships are only for those who know exactly what they want their profession to be upon graduation, and lack benefit for students with undecided majors. On the contrary, if you are unsure about your future profession, an internship is going to be incredibly beneficial to you. Take time to explore the fields that interest you, especially as an undecided underclassman preparing to claim a major.
4. Once Time is Lost, It Will Never Be Found Again
“I do NOT have time for an internship with my crazy schedule!” I entered college with the classes of a double-major, a Division I sport that required me to wake up at 5am every morning, and the perspective of an overwhelmed freshman. I convinced myself I had no time for an internship, not now, next year or ever. That was my mindset, and it’s one you do not want to have.
You usually have only four years to openly explore your options within various career paths. Take the opportunity, whether it means you take a part-time internship with minimal hours, or find a virtual internship to conduct on your own time. Many students join sports, clubs and organizations while also finding time for an internship. Remember, you may be having a hard time finding the perfect internship, but employers may be looking for someone just like you! Don’t give up, you’ll benefit in the long run.
5. May Your Grades Be Ever in Your Favor
If you fear the need to fulfill your credit requirements and think taking an internship will cause your grades to suffer, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Employers and academic advisors are more than happy to work to get you credits in exchange for your time at an internship. Not only will you gain real-life experience within the field of your choice, but you can benefit academically from the experience. Two birds with one stone.
6. Millionaire? More like Nillionaire
Students are known to pull the “I’m living on a college-student budget” card. Getting a job that will support your lifestyle and living expenses is a priority over finding an internship that can be unpaid. But, did you know there are a lot of incredible internship opportunities that are paid? In fact, there is a high probability you will get paid more when you graduate if you have held one or more internships! Employers take into account the value of an internship and are usually inspired to express that through your pay.
7. I Know “People”
You may have some strong connections already established in your aspiring career field, but you can never network too much. During your internship, everyone you meet becomes a possible connection. Whether it is an individual you can contact for advice or someone you go to for a referral, networking could be the reason you land your dream job.
8. Time Management Is Life Management
“I can’t handle 17 credits, how am I supposed to manage an internship on top of that?” Internships will teach you better time management as a college student. They give you a sense of structure beyond your spotty class schedule and daily nap in the back of the library. It is an unspoken addition to your resume – showing that you were able to balance a loaded class schedule successfully with an internship.
9. You Did It, So What
Congratulations on finishing your internship, but it does not end quite yet. You may think putting your internship on your resume is good enough, but we can find something better than that for you. Ask your internship supervisor for a letter of recommendation. A reference directly from the source speaks volumes to future employers.
10. Do It, I Dare You
Most schools have online resources to help you find and filter through internship opportunities to best fit your needs, whether it’s a paid internship or a credit-exchange opportunity. You have the ultimate power to decide whether or not you’re going to go out there and get that real-life experience. So now that we’ve debunked most of the excuses you have been using, get creative and start searching!