If you’re a college student, you’ve heard it. You need to get an internship. If you’re anything like me, you smile and nod while thinking, “Okay cool. But why?” Eventually everyone told me this enough times that I started dropping my resume off at every marketing firm in the area. Shortly thereafter I began my first summer as an intern. As I enter my second summer as an intern with Rokusek I can officially say I’ve drank the ‘you need to get an internship’ kool-aid.
From a current intern to a hopeful future intern, here are the reasons why an internship can change your life, in the best way.
Experience – Classes and projects are great, but nothing can ever top getting your hands dirty in a field. An internship will teach you more of what you need to learn about what a future career looks like. It will expand on the information you have learned in class and give you pieces to add to your resume. There may be days that you feel like you aren’t getting true experience. You may not be participating in every client meeting or crunching the big numbers on an account, but you are still getting to do something that matters, even if it’s tedious data entry. The opportunity to get experience of sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day and participating in office meetings is enough to give you a better idea of where you want to go with your career.
Knowledge – In your internship the people you are sitting beside and working with are full of knowledge about the specific job you are working on and other industries you are interested in. Engage them in conversation about what they like about their job, what they have done in the past, and how they got where they are now. You may be surprised about what they have to share with you. When I chatted with my colleagues at Rokusek I learned that there is no straight path to a career. I learned that they all changed their minds, moved positions and had seasons of feeling lost before they ended up at Rokusek. Talking with them gave me comfort that I was in the middle of changing my mind, and they reminded me that I will probably do it again sometime. The knowledge your colleagues are willing to share with you is valuable and can be taken as you go on back to school and eventually on to find a full-time job.
Confidence – By the end of your internship with the experience and knowledge you have gained, you will be able to leave with more confidence than you came in with. You will have a better idea of who you are, what you can do, and where you want to go. The tasks you are given will help you discover what you like, what you’re good at and what you need to develop more. Even small things like talking to your boss about what days you need off for the summer will help you build the needed confidence to enter the full-time work force. Suzy Kassem said, “Doubt will kill more dreams than failure ever will.” And she was right. Having an internship will help you kill that doubt you have in yourself before that doubt kills your dreams.
Excitement – Even if your internship teaches you that that field is not what you want for a career, there is still an excitement about what your future can have. It’s exciting to know that you are getting a direction for what you want to do. When I entered my internship at Rokusek, I was planning on pursuing a career in children’s psychology after I graduated. As I dug deeper into the tasks I was given I learned that my true passion was in marketing. I continued to get more and more excited about my future, even though my direction for life was totally changing. If your internship does happen to align with what you dream of your future career looking like, you can leave with so much excitement about your future, just like I ended up getting to do. That excitement will fuel your motivation to work harder and dream bigger.
A job! Or if nothing else, a great reference. According to Forbes, 60% of internships turn into jobs. If those odds don’t convince you, I’m not sure what will. Internships often serve as trial runs for an employer. It gives them a short time to see if your personality matches their company culture and if your skills align with what they need. If you don’t receive a job offer from your internship, you are still gaining a great reference and networking community. This reference or one of those connections could land you a different job somewhere else. Some days you may ‘only’ be getting coffee or taking out the trash, but at the same time you’re building relationships and working alongside experts in your desired field.
Internships can be tricky and scary, but don’t be afraid to ask questions, work hard, and try something new. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re an intern. You aren’t expected to know it all. I can guarantee you the internship you receive will be worth it, so knock on every door you can find. I was terrified to walk into Rokusek and hand my resume to a stranger, but it has given me more than I could have imagined. I’m sure you’ll feel the same way when you walk out of your internship.