- You could earn college credit toward your degree. Many if not most colleges provide credit for eligible internships. Check with your faculty adviser or career-services office to see what your school’s or major-department’s policies are.
- Internships enable you take your career plan for a test drive. You might discover by interning in your planned career field that it’s not what you thought it would be like. Or one niche of your field is a better fit for you than another. Let’s say you’re a marketing major, and you complete an internship in marketing research. You discover you hate it. Before giving up on marketing, you do an internship in public relations and find it’s a perfect fit for you. Isn’t it better to figure all this out before you graduate and are stuck in a field that’s not for you? You can also test out career paths not in your major. Let’s say you’ve decided on a major but always had a lingering interest in a completely different field. You could do an internship in the other field to decide how strong your interest really is and whether you want to beef up your studies in that field. Finally, you can test out creative ways to combine your interests, as one student we know did who was wavering between med school and a marketing career and did internships that combined medicine and marketing. She ultimately pursued grad school in health-care policy.
- You’ll gain valuable understanding of your major field and be better able to grasp how your coursework is preparing you to enter your chosen career. You may also discover gaps between your classroom learning and what you need to know in the real world and can strategize how you will fill those gaps. Some employers will even suggest additional courses you should consider.
- You’ll develop skills galore. Maybe you already have the great interpersonal skills employers seek. But in an internship, you can’t help but sharpen them by interacting with people on a professional level and in a way that you would never have the opportunity to do in the classroom. The same goes for the teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills that employers lust for.