The Ins and Outs of Internships

Whether you are a college freshmen or an upperclassmen, chances are you’ve heard the word “internship” thrown around a lot. Although participating in an internship is not mandatory, it is definitely an opportunity that has the ability to further your career choices and can help greatly after graduation. Not sure if such a thing is right for you? Below is general information about internships and how they work, which could help you put things in perspective.

What Is An Internship?

College students that become interns are given the opportunity to technically “work” for a particular company, business or organization in order to gain hands-on experience and exposure to a real world environment. The main factor that distinguishes an internship from an actual job is that interns are not paid any money. Instead they receive college credits in return for their participation.

What Kind of Internships Are Available?

There are literally too many different types of internships than one can keep track of. Some of the most popular internship programs can be found in the following fields: graphic design, broadcasting, journalism, healthcare and law. It is important for college students to find out what industry their interests are and/or what type of career they visualize themselves doing. This is a great way to pinpoint what kind of internship would be the most beneficial for both a student’s academic as well as future career goals.

What Do Interns Do?

Even though interns often get labeled as “errand boys/girls” and are seen as being at the bottom of the food chain, it is the experience, duties and connections that makes being in an internship totally worth it. The actual duties that interns perform varies from industry to industry but in most cases, interns can expect to shadow one or more professionals in the company, receive instruction on how/why certain duties or actions are performed and take care of tasks that their superiors delegate to them. For example, a law intern may be asked to do research, collect/deliver paperwork, take notes during meetings and/or organize case files. An intern working in the broadcasting field can find themselves shadowing a news reporter on site, helping with equipment and bringing scripts from one department to another.

But I Don’t Get Paid!

Being an intern isn’t about the money, it’s about the experience. While getting a paycheck would be nice (and there are some paid programs available), internships are structured in such a way that students will gain immediate skills, experience and knowledge about their field, which looks great on a resume and could help a student snag their dream job after graduation. A college grad with internship experience is more likely to be hired than a college grad lacking this qualification.

Internships also mean networking. Getting to work closely with professionals in the field means having access to someone who can answer any and all questions. These figures act as mentors and if you do well, they’ll be more than happy to do what they can to help you get your foot in the door. This includes writing a letter of recommendation or even pulling strings with their higher-ups to get you a job at the company after graduation.

Students interested in internships are encouraged to speak with their school advisor or look up internship programs online to find out what requirements need to be met in order to be eligible.