A great way to have a jumpstart on the adult workforce before getting your first job is to have an internship or two under your belt. Eighty-six percent of college graduates complete at least one internship, and 69% complete two or more. Companies are more likely to hire you if you are familiar with their culture and structure, which internships expose you to.
To add to the convenience, most internships provide students with academic credits at their college. With money not being the concern it will be after graduating, internships during college provide a great opportunity to join a company without having to worry about salary (internships either pay little or not at all). Internships are an important part of career assessment. By becoming an intern, you will be able to evaluate whether or not you’re interested in a particular job. Because you are not a paid employee, you are not subject to the many risks that come with working for the company.
Perhaps one of the most important things about an internship is that it gives you hands-on experience. Instead of learning theories in a college classroom, you are actually working in the field. Being an internship will reinforce the skills you developed in the classroom, and it will provide you with additional skills that will allow you to succeed in the workplace.
As we all know, experience is key when applying for a job. Internships provide students with several key items that employers look for when assessing experience while hiring new employees: experience in responsibility, experience in taking initiative, and hands-on experience in the very industry you’re applying in. At first, your responsibilities will probably be small ones, but all interns have to pay their dues; it’s important to treat each responsibility with the same professionalism other employees treat more important tasks.
Regarding showing initiative, the jobs you later apply for will love it if they find out you had a habit of diving tough problems into smaller, manageable tasks during your internship, and they’ll take note of you even more if you can share solutions you came up with that were out-of-box. Internships give students opportunities to apply their knowledge in real-life settings while improving their transferable skills along the way.
Internships also provide you with the chance to make valuable contacts and references. This should encourage you to tackle as many tasks as possible, because each job duty will introduce you to different people within the company, and perhaps outside. Also, make sure to attend as many company meetings and workshops as possible. Build professional relationships with supervisors and managers within the organization.
They can offer job-hunting advice and tips from their years of experience. And since you don’t have to limit yourself to the working environment, open yourself to joining coworkers at work events and in company social functions, such as summer softball.
Good and Bad Habits
Along the lines of treating an internship as you would a regular job, make sure not to fall into a bad habit just because you are "only" an intern. Examples of such habits are not wearing proper work attire, showing up to work late and/or leaving early, disrespecting coworkers, and missing deadlines. In contrast; take advantage of the good habits you can pick up since you are "only" an intern. For instance, ask a lot of questions.
The average employee at the company might be looked down upon if he or she has a habit of displaying lack of knowledge about what’s going on, but every at the company knows you are just a student looking to learn, so they’ll be more than happy to answer any question you might have. Anytime you enter unfamiliar territory; don’t hesitate to ask someone for help. Also, ask questions to staff to help you learn what role your company has in the very industry you’ve chosen. Another good habit you can pick up that most other employees at the company cannot is spreading yourself in different departments.
A full-time employee has specific roles for a certain department, but you can act as more of a floater as an intern. Even if you, too, have been given specific duties within one department, there’s always room to help others as an intern.