Undergraduates have probably often heard the same nagging advice over and over during their college years - “Make sure you get an internship before you graduate!” However, it’s easy for college students to get so busy with schoolwork and extracurriculars that finding an internship often falls by the wayside. Many undergraduates don’t realize the value of having an internship until it’s too late.
Through the connections that UW-Stevens Point has with the community and local businesses, I was able to find and complete two internships during my college career. The experience I gained from these amazing opportunities helped me realize firsthand why internships are so important - and why every college student should try to get one before they graduate.
First, and perhaps most importantly, internships can help students decide on a major. Choosing which career field you want to work in for the next 40+ years is daunting, especially when a college degree costs tens of thousands of dollars and multiple years to complete. It would be a huge waste for students to graduate and find a job in their field, only to discover that they hate it. On the other hand, getting an internship allows students to experience firsthand what a specific career field is like. If students realize they detest their initial career choice, they still have time to change majors before they graduate, potentially saving themselves from wasting thousands of dollars and years of their life.
Another benefit of internships is that students can apply what they’ve learned in class. Learning concepts in a classroom is one thing, but actually applying them in a real-life setting is the ultimate test. For some undergraduates this shift may be surprisingly challenging. For some, the ability to connect course material to the real world is a skill that must be sharpened. The sooner students begin to hone this ability, the easier it’ll become for them to recall relevant concepts in their future career.
Lastly, internships offer invaluable experience that can help graduates stand out from other applicants. It’s becoming more common for entry-level positions to require previous industry experience, leaving many new graduates underqualified for the jobs in their field. The experiences and skills gained from internships can help graduates strengthen their resume, improving their chances of landing their dream job right out of college.
All in all, internships are more than just a resume builder. They offer college students a glimpse into the working world to determine if they like what they see before committing to a lifelong career. Additionally, some things simply can’t be taught in a classroom setting. Internships can help fill in the gaps while also giving students a competitive edge when it comes to finding a job after graduating. Although it may be difficult for busy college students to find the time for an internship, the benefits of completing one are well worth it in the end.
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