5 big benefits of doing an internship
From boosting your resume to gaining real-world job experience, doing an internship can help sell you to future employers.
Ignore the nightmarish Hollywood depictions of internships a la The Devil Wear’s Prada—you should wholeheartedly pursue an internship during college and/or over the summer. Why? For one thing, employers overwhelmingly point to internship experience as one of the most important factors they consider in hiring new college graduates for full-time positions.
“For many employers, the internship is an extended interview,” says Ethel Badawi, associate director of George Washington University’s Career Center. Indeed, last year the average job offer rate to interns climbed to 73%, the highest since the peak of the pre-recession job market, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2016 Internship & Co-op Survey Report.
That’s not all: In addition to positing yourself for a job offer, there are other valuable benefits to completing an internship. Check out the following five ways you’ll prosper from being an all-star intern.
Beef up your resume
Getting real-world experience under your belt and onto your resume is crucial; after all, prospective employers want to see that you bring a good set of professional skills to the table.
Still, you need to present your internship experience on your resume strategically if you want to impress future hiring managers.
“On your resume, you should focus on skills and results, not just the duties you performed,” says Badawi. One way to do this is to quantify your achievements using impressive numbers. For example, instead of simply stating that you “wrote news releases,” get more specific and say “wrote 25 news releases in a three-week period under daily deadlines.”
Ideally, you also did something that improved the company’s bottom line; for instance, “identified, researched, and recommended a new Internet service provider, cutting the company's online operating costs by 15%.”
Figure out what you want to do—and don’t want to do
“An internship is an important step to establishing your career goals,” says Pulin Sanghvi, executive director of career services at Princeton University.
So, if you think you know what type of job you want after college, do a test run through an internship, says Rebecca Sparrow, executive director of career services at Cornell University.
But make sure you match your career interests to the type of internship you do. “If you think you want to work in the startup world, you need to intern at a startup,” says Sparrow, “since your notion of what it’s like to work at a startup might not match reality.”
Moreover, figuring out what type of job you don’t want while you’re interning can help prevent you from accepting an ill-fitting job when you graduate.
Learn by observation
As an intern, you get an inside scoop on the industry that can’t be learned in any article or classroom. You can gain skills and knowledge just by physically being in an office and paying attention to your surroundings, says Sparrow.
So, use your eyeballs to assess what the company culture is like. Do employees eat alone at their desks or have lunch together? How many hours do people typically work? How do co-workers communicate?
Another way to learn through observation is to sit in on department meetings, or shadow an employee for a day. “Just being a silent participant in a meeting or a conference call can give you a better understanding of how the company operates,” says Badawi.
Get professional feedback
As a college student, you’ve been graded on college papers and exams, but you probably haven’t received feedback from someone who’s actually working in the field. Granted, soliciting constructive criticism from your supervisor might require a little effort on your part, since some managers are hesitant to volunteer feedback to their direct reports.
Getting pointers on your performance throughout the internship (read: don’t wait until the end!) can help you develop and hone your skills, says Sanghvi.
A sweet bonus: “When people engage with you and offer advice,” Sanghvi says, “they often become stakeholders in your career success.”
Make valuable connections
Take advantage of the opportunity to do internal networking while you’re at the company. “Introduce yourself to people you don’t know in the break room” and then ask to learn more about their job over coffee, Badawi recommends. Or, simply ask your boss to introduce you to workers in other departments.
Also, spend time building relationships with your fellow interns. “These people may be your competition right now, but they’re going to be your industry peers one day,” says Badawi. “By befriending them now, you may be able to lean on them as your career develops.”
Stay in touch with your new connections after the internship ends; otherwise, you could get overlooked when job openings pop up.
Getting your foot in the door is one of the more challenging aspects of your career, but it pays off in droves—internships are just the start. Need some help breaking through? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get internship alerts emailed right to your inbox, which cuts down on the amount of time you'd spend combing through ads. Additionally, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to different types of internships that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking for qualified candidates, just like you.