“Where do you think you’ll intern? You’re going to get an internship, right? You DO know how important it is?”
I couldn’t stand these questions as a college student. Even typing them now brought back some anxiety. But you know what? I have been out of college for a while now, and if there is anything that I wish I could change about my college studies, it’s that I wish I had more out-of-the-classroom experience. I wish that I had taken the time to find more hands-on learning opportunities, specifically internships. In this blog, I share how an internship is truly the GOAT when it comes to practical, real-world application of your studies and a step in the right direction for your future! Here are four reasons why your college internship matters.
1. Stand out from the crowd of job-seekers
The job market is more competitive than ever. Did you know that approximately 42% of U.S. adults, ages 25 and older, have a college degree? There are more than 90 million people walking around with a college education in America. And guess what? All these people need jobs—That’s why it is critical to distinguish yourself from the pile of applicants pursuing the same positions as you. The best way to do that is through hands-on, practical experience, and a great internship is one of the most effective ways of doing this!
A 2017 study from the NACE Center for Career Development and Acquisition indicates just how much your college internship matters. Researchers found that the two biggest influences and predictors for initial career outcomes were grade point average and the total number of internships a student completed as an undergraduate—so yep, it’s that important.
If you want to have a leg up on the competition, don’t just try to beat them in the classroom. Try to beat them in experience!
2. Do what you study.
Experience is not just valuable for employment opportunities—it’s important for your growth! Essentially, your college internship matters because it’s a step towards finding out what you want to do for your career. Working in your field of study provides you with insight into your likes and dislikes for your future line of work.
When I was pursuing my undergraduate studies in journalism, I quickly learned through my job as a news editor that writing stories in a professional environment was quite different than writing stories for a class assignment. By pursuing and crafting stories on a daily basis, conducting interviews, and working on layout design for my job, I found the areas that seemed more natural and enjoyable to me, along with the areas that I needed to improve. It’s now been several years since I transitioned out of that role, and I still believe that period of my life played a critical role in opening my eyes to what responsibilities best suited me and would be most fulfilling and sustainable over a long period of time or in other words—my career.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, around 80 percent of college students will change their majors at least once. Why is that? You may be thinking to yourself– “obviously, it’s because they found out that their major isn’t what they wanted to do…” and yes, you are correct. But how did they reach that conclusion? They came to this realization through experience in their field of study. I’m not saying that your internship will make you realize that what you’re studying isn’t what you should do. I am saying that it will certainly lead you in one way or the other, and that is reason enough to pursue an internship during your undergraduate studies.
3. Get some confidence or a slice of humble pie.
Being the king or queen of your major doesn’t mean much when you step off the graduation stage and into an office full of seasoned professionals. When I stepped into the workforce, I quickly found that learning doesn’t stop once you finish school. Like all young professionals, I learned a lot of things by trial and error, and while there is a part of me that longs to go back and change a few things, I know that these were simply growing pains. What helped me more than anything was the support around me. I was surrounded by mentors who took the time to invest in me, and that made all the difference. They reassured me of my potential when I felt out of my league and reminded me of all the ways I needed to improve when I got a little too cocky. When you start an internship, you can begin this process of growth, self-realization, and hands-on learning sooner rather than later.
“Your career doesn’t start when you get your first job out of college—it starts when you put your classroom learning into practice. It starts when you utilize your skills and training in a real-world setting, and that is why your college internship matters. It’s a headstart on your career.”
4. Land a job
You knew this one was coming. If you were to ask most people ‘why should I get an internship?’, this would probably be the most common response. So, why does an internship make that much of a difference when it comes to landing a full-time position? Because…
“…when you are an intern, every day is an opportunity to prove your worth to your employer.”
Most employers would rather consider current employees with proven experience and internal knowledge of the company before looking elsewhere. From an employer’s perspective, there is no better way of knowing if someone will meet their expectations than by seeing them in action for themselves.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, over 70 percent of employers end up offering their interns full-time jobs. That’s right—70 percent!
For many organizations, their internships are sought after by the brightest and most promising candidates. Interns are handpicked by recruiters and staff members. If a candidate is selected and then proves him/herself on the job, then why wouldn’t an employer consider these individuals for a full-time position?
So, does your college internship matter? Statistics and thousands of accounts from college graduates certainly indicate a strong ‘yes.’ Now, does this mean you have to get an internship in college to be successful? Not necessarily. Depending on your field of study, it may or may not be quite as vital. But, for many, it can make all the difference.
Call it a shameless plug if you’d like, but at SAGU, our Career Development office goes above and beyond to make sure our students get plugged into not just any internship—but the right one. Maybe I’m a little biased, but I’ve seen firsthand the impact of the ‘right internship.’ If you’re interested in learning more about the ways this department gets our students what they need, click here.
About the Author
Andrew received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism (2015) and a master’s degree in Strategic Communication (2022). Seeing the world by way of story, he was drawn to writing and music at a young age. He is also a major foodie which may explain why his shirts “keep getting smaller.” Andrew serves as the managing editor for PrepU.