Why internships are more than work experience
Whether you’re just fresh from High school, or recently graduated from college, or even if you’re still a student, thinking about the real labor market can be scary. Today’s highly competitive labor market can be intimidating, especially when you just left (or are about to) the comforts of the ‘student’ zone. The gap between school and the actual labor market is big, and the transition requires some efforts. Of course, there are institutions, like universities that provide career portals where you’re guided through the whole job application process. Nevertheless, you’re still the one who needs to take an active approach and put themselves out there. From polishing up your resume, writing cover letters to convincing people to write you a killer recommendation letter, you have to take action! We have been told many times, that getting some real work experience is good first start, hence a valuable experience. It shapes your expectations and helps you to accommodate those expectations.
Work experience can be gained in different ways, but the one you probably heard most about is an internship. These days, most employers prefer graduates with work experience. The reasons why have mostly to do with the many benefits an internship provides. Before jumping into those benefits, it should be noted that most of them complement each other.
1. Work experience
The first and most obvious benefit that internships offer is that it boosts your resume by giving you real work experience. You’ll learn and experience what it is like to work a job with a rigid working schedule. You’ll learn how to deal with work responsibilities and what it’s like to report to a supervisor. It’ll highlight the importance of prioritizing and time management. It will expose and teach you how to deal with situations that you weren’t taught about in class. However, there are of course more advantages to doing an internship.
2. Gain knowledge
When you work an actual job, you get a way better understanding of how your theoretical knowledge is useful in the workplace. It might even show you, that you lack certain skills and knowledge. In addition, working together with experienced colleagues will expose you to different perspectives, new skills, and knowledge. Which you can learn from or they might even provide you with specific advice.
Being exposed to new problems and challenges will definitely help you to develop and refine your skills. These skills can come in many forms like team-work, problem-solving, time management, and the list goes on. Your boss might present you with new challenges, by having you lead a meeting or give you more responsibilities depending on the skills you have demonstrated.
Working in your field of interest will show you what it is really like. You’ll get a much better understanding of what expectations come with the job. You might finally realize that this is not what you want or find out that this is really your dream job. In addition, you might also discover new career paths that you had not considered before. Working with people that work in your field of interest, will enable you to ask them questions. This way you can even gain a better idea of your career interests and possibilities.
5. Secure a job
In some cases, internships are like ‘try it before you buy it’. This goes both for the companies as for the interns. Companies give prospective and potential employees the opportunity to experience what working for their company is like. In addition, the company can see what your potential is and whether you could be a fit for the company. In turn, you as an intern can see whether this company is a fit for you.
6. Get international experience
These days it is easy to find an internship abroad, as many companies are located in several countries. This gives you the perfect opportunity to push your boundaries and gain work experience abroad. Going abroad, allows you to grow professionally but also personally. You’ll become more culturally aware and gain exciting new insights. In many cases, this will give you a competitive edge compared to your peers.
7. Expand your professional network
Obviously working in a corporate environment will expose you to lots of different people in and outside the relevant industry. It gives you the chance to talk to different people from different hierarchy levels, companies, positions and departments. It is, therefore, the perfect way for you to build your professional network. This network might become in handy, when you might be looking for a future job.
Since you are an intern, the expectation and therefore work pressure might be less. Your supervisor will adjust their expectations since you are ‘just’ an intern, nevertheless, it is expected that you still treat it like a ‘real’ job. It is a good way to strengthen your confidence, as might feel more at ease in the workplace, as you don’t feel pressured to live up to certain expectations.
This can come in many different forms. The most conventional compensation is money. However, not every internship will pay their interns. But there are quite some internships that might give you another form of compensation for your hard work. You could give you employee discounts or deals, or they provide you with lunch, cover your travel expenses or reimburse tickets for business network events.
Nowadays, doing an internship is rather the norm than an exception, and therefore in most cases, it does not necessarily make you stand out from the crowd. However, you should see an internship as a way to develop yourself, rather than a boost for your resume. It gives you valuable life skills, experiences, network and confidence that can only be gained by doing.