Disclaimer: If you lack ambition, let me spare you the time and say, “This blog is not for you.” If you think you have what it takes to be above average, or are actively seeking motivation, read on my friend.
Way, way back in the day, all you needed was a high school education to be considered a genius. In our parents’ generation, a college degree was something to brag about. Today, you need a high school diploma, college degree, and a solid internship to be considered a candidate for an entry-level position. Truth is, our society is continually advancing, and the competition for career occupations is tougher than ever. Moving beyond the fact that acquiring an internship is now considered the norm, interning does offer certain benefits that a degree does not. An internship provides you with training, distinction, and networking opportunities. Still not convinced? Let me elaborate:
1. Equip yourself with relevant experience
Entering into the working-world is equivalent to entering a battlefield. Would you feel confident going to war with your only training coming from “How To Use A Firearm For Dummies”? I sincerely hope not. In my current internship, I am getting accustomed to the particulars of agency life. I sit in on meetings with clients, brainstorm new marketing tactics, manage content for social sites, and perform analytics to show return on investments. All of this was new to me, and only through trial and error did I become comfortable speaking up and performing these tasks correctly.
Interning is your opportunity to make mistakes, to ask idiotic questions, and to look foolish. In due time, you will learn the tricks of the trade, and be equipped with the skills for survival once you’re out in the field.
2. Stand out from the crowd
The formal internship gained popularity in the 1980’s. An article in Forbes on "The Evolution of Interns" states, “Universities took the lead in making internships more appealing and productive for students by giving course credit for them, and advisers pushed internships as a way to get ahead in the competition for jobs” (Sradlin). Luckily for you, this is relatively recent. There are many students out there who still don’t realize the necessity of interning.
To an employer, finding internship experiences on a resume is like finding Waldo. They couldn’t be happier. In their heads they are calculating: More internship experience equals less training. Your chances of hearing about the next steps in their selection process increase, while the resumes lacking intern experience are submitted to the paper shredder for further review. Matt Marschinke, Marketing Strategist at Jacob Tyler, explains “A solid internship is the best way to get your foot in the door. The hard truth is many entry level positions require more than just an education.”
3. Gain access to a network of accomplished professionals
Once your foot is in the door, take advantage of your resources. Every professional in that building is a potential reference to your dream job. If you haven’t yet, build an impressive LinkedIn account and network with every person you meet. Ryan Chan, project manager for LinkedIn, states “LinkedIn has over 200 million users. Use the advanced search to find a professional with a similar background as you. Where are they working now? Can you see yourself working there in the future? Then message him (or her).”
This is your opportunity to snoop around; discover their past experiences, and explore their current connections. Find someone you look up to that has knowledge and experience, and ask them to mentor you. It’s impossible to predict who will have an influence on your career goals. Lastly, create a unique distinction between you and your peers. In a few decades, everyone and their mother will have interned somewhere. In the meantime, an internship will set you apart from your less ambitious peers.