Reasons to Get an Internship in College
posted August 7th 2017, 10:11 am by Chloe Harbach
We are going to step away from marketing for a bit and talk a little bit about internships. I should probably introduce myself since this post is going to be a little more personal. My name is Chloe, and I am currently interning with RedMoxy. I am a firm believer in the benefits of internships. Getting an internship in college is a proactive way to give yourself an edge both professionally and personally.
An Internship in College Facilitates Professional Growth
Finding Your Professional Interests
Story time! I have changed my “dream job” about 5000 times and consequently didn’t land on a major until I was a junior in college. I kept thinking that a certain career path would be perfect; however, when I would get a taste of it, I would realize that it wasn’t right for me. It was really difficult to know without being able to test the waters. When I got my first internship, I was really excited about the field that I was entering. I thought that it was perfect for me, and I loved the organization where I was interning. As weeks turned into months, I began to realize that I prefered working on the more creative side projects that I was picking up for a different director in the organization. They were more within my skillset, and I just found them to be more enjoyable.
After leaving that internship, (it was a wonderful experience by the way!) I decided to change my career path. I left the field that I had been in, and now I get to be creative -- something I am much more passionate about.
Here’s the point.
Without my first internship, I would not have known that that first field wasn’t a good fit for me. See, sometimes we can see ourselves working at a specific organization, but the details of the work we do can be a little more fuzzy. College has a lot of incredible learning opportunities in the classroom, but stepping out of that environment before graduation is one of the best things that you can do for yourself to really understand what you are getting into. Welcome to real life, baby!
For me, I knew within weeks that I was in the wrong field. If I would have been hired into that job after graduation without ever doing an internship, I would have trapped myself in a job that I was not passionate about. That would have been a whole mess… Yikes! But, now, an internship gives you a taste of reality that allows you to understand yourself better before you make major career decisions.
Do me a favor for a second. I want you to think of yourself as a sponge. Seriously think about all knowledge you would soak up if your brain were a sponge. An internship is a very low cost way to sponge up skills and knowledge while you are young. Yes, you learn a ton in college courses, but there is even more to be learned hands-on. Hypotheticals can only give you so much.
Your skills will also help you in future interviews as well. I had worked with social media in a previous internship, so I was able to talk about that while I was interviewing with RedMoxy. That previous experience gave me a competitive edge and helped me land my internship.
As with all relevant and valuable experiences, an internship is a great addition to any resume. Previous interning experience can help you land a new internship or a new job. While in college, there are lots of things that you can add to your resume that will set you apart. Volunteer experience, relevant job titles, leadership initiatives, clubs and organizations, education, etc. etc. etc. But one of the best things that you can add to your resume is an internship. It shows that you have worked with “real” business people who have deadlines and standards of excellence. It shows that you were able to keep up with the workflow of new people and a new environment. Plus, it makes you more memorable because you have now been linked in your interviewer’s mind to an organization.
Oy. So, one of the greatest things about college is the ability to be independent. Ahh, self sufficiency. It is a wonderful feeling. An internship provides an even more “high-stakes” opportunity for growing in “responsible-ness”. As an intern, you will be responsible for real tasks (unless you are a coffee runner, in that case… sorry!) that a company needs taken care of. You will have real deadlines. Real consequences. And that is what is going to make you develop as a professional.
Since you are out in the real world now, you have the perfect opportunity to start growing your professional network. Chances are, you will be working with a variety of people who work in a variety of different fields. Practice learning from as many people as you can (sponge!) and meet as many people as possible. If you can, add these people on LinkedIn and grow your online network.
An Internship in College Facilitates Personal Growth
Living in a New City
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend moving somewhere new. Living in a new city and experiencing that separation from past expectations and realities maximizes your potential for growth. It is a lot like traveling to a new country. When you are thrown outside of your norms, you learn who you really are. It may sound cheesey, but, really, this is the time when you need to figure out who you are. It just is.
If you can get a paid internship, I mean, do it. I have been both a paid and an unpaid intern, and let me just say that getting paid for your work feels so much more rewarding. Also, it pays the bills… So, you know, that’s always a good thing!
Money can be a weird concept in college because of college loans and the wonky-ness that comes with school debt. Even if you don’t have that kind of debt, it is still a great idea to work on budgeting and money management while you are still in college. Develop effective marketing habits now, while you have the structure and support of being in college. Then, when you are out in the real world, you will be more prepared.
There is so much to learn in life, and, let's face it, it's easier to learn now when there is less on your plate. Good luck with your internship!
Let us know if you have questions about internships or marketing. Contact us here. We are happy to help.