By Debbie Lechtman Fachler > Sophomore > Syracuse University > Magazine Journalism, Photo by The Career Project
You have heard it before and you will hear it again: get an internship. But for all that professors, parents, fellow students and employers insist, what is the big deal about internships, anyway? Truth be told, long hours, little or no pay and fetching coffee are not things that are particularly appealing to most college students, especially when they could snatch a much more profitable summer job instead.
Despite all the cons, however, internships are a must these days.
Interns are very likely to be hired as full-time employees after graduation. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 70 percent of interns who graduated from college in 2008 were hired at a company where they had previously interned, compared to 57 percent in 2001. This trend is likely to continue, so it is important to intern and make good connections.
CollegeGrad.com’s director Adeola Ogunwole also explains that during a recession, companies lean toward hiring interns and later hiring these same interns as employees because they currently do not have the budget to pay for entry-level employees.
Even if the company does not hire you, any internship in your field of interest will improve your resume and help your job prospects elsewhere. Employers are much more likely to be impressed by you if you interned anywhere related to your field than if you took a summer job as a cashier at 7-Eleven.
“What [employers] are looking for is not necessarily just that you did well in college, but experience,” Syracuse University junior Heather Rinder says.
An internship might help you decide that a major or career is not right for you. Not everyone enjoys their internships, and even if they do, they might decide that that career is not right for them. It is better to realize this as an intern than as a full-time employee who has to pay the bills.
“It was all very corporate and sterile,” says Katie Manwaring, a junior at Elon University, whose internship helped her decide that that was not the right career path for her, “I knew right away I could never see myself working on PR for credit card and oil companies. The people were very serious and I just felt like I didn’t fit into the environment. For me I’m the type where I need to be passionate about the clients or organizations I’m working for or else I won’t be as successful.”
On the other hand, an internship might make you even more passionate about your future career. Internships are a great place to get hands-on experience and apply all that you have learned in the classroom. It could be really exciting for you to finally be doing something other than just taking notes.
“I think the internship actually made me even more excited to be in the magazine field,” says Rinder.
As an intern, you may get many behind-the-scenes opportunities. You might get to sit in at important meetings or attend events that you have always wanted to go to.
“One of my favorite parts of the experience was attending different press events with the magazine. As this was my first internship, I was super excited to attend every one of those events – if your editor [or boss] invites you, go!” Rinder says.