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.
Summer internship opportunities are plentiful right now on Monster. Ignore the nightmarish Hollywood depictions of internships a la The Devil Wear’s Prada—the benefits of an internship are such that you should wholeheartedly pursue one 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, co-founder and principal of the Pollack Badawi Group, a boutique legal search firm focused on partner and associate hiring. Traditionally, job-offer rates for college graduates are very dependent on whether they had an internship, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Bonus: The average hourly rate was $19.05 in 2019, the highest hourly wage thus far for interns.
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 benefits of an internship for an all-star in training like yourself.
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, former 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
One of the biggest benefits of an internship is that 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 interacting with company employees, says Sparrow.
So, use your eyeballs to assess what the company culture is like. Do employees collaborate or work on projects individually? 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. “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. Have a Zoom meeting with a new team? “Introduce yourself to people you don’t know” and then email one or two people individually to ask to learn more about their job, Badawi recommends. Or, simply ask your boss to virtually 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 finding a good internship? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of internships that interest you. Additionally, you can get internship alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are two quick and easy ways Monster can help you put your career on the right track.