Why Internships Matter
For college students, internships are often a type of purgatory. You’re almost done with college, but you’re not quite in the real world yet. You’re working, perhaps even at a job that you can picture yourself at for a very long time, but you’re not yet getting paid, or, if you are, you’re not getting paid very much. But, everyone keeps telling you that internships are important. It’s easy to forget that when you’re in the midst of one and as graduation keeps getting closer and closer and you might even feel like you’re wasting your time. The internship is important, though.
Think of the internship as an audition. But instead of auditioning for a team or a play, you are trying out for a career. For this reason, it’s important that you stand out from all the other interns out there. It’s easy to just do your job, work hard, keep yourself quiet, and assume that your boss will instantly recognize your stellar work ethic and all the amazing things you accomplished. That’s usually not the case, though. What often happens is that the quiet intern gets overlooked, and others get more recognition, even if they’re not really the greatest at their job. So you need to ask yourself why this happens. And then you need to take steps to correct it.
The first step is to track the tasks that you’ve been given and how you’ve accomplished them. In other words, what are you doing for the company? Next, track what initiative you’ve taken. The most valuable employees don’t just do the bare minimum that’s being asked of them. They go above and beyond by recognizing areas that need work, and then going ahead and doing those things that are needed. As an intern, you may want to check with a supervisor before you do these things, but definitely be on the lookout for them and don’t feel that you are limited to just the barebones tasks that are assigned. Look for things that need to be done, and do them well.
At your interview for a fulltime position, the hiring manager is likely to ask you something like, “why should I hire you?” If they don’t answer it, they are certainly thinking it. This question is not about you at all, though. It’s about the company and what you can do for the company. By keeping track of the information mentioned above, you are arming yourself with a strong answer to this question. Being prepared to handle this question without being timid or hesitation is going to show that not only are you a great addition to the company, but that you are able to take charge and anticipate the needs that the company has. This will automatically put you way above the vast majority of other interns out there. When this happens, you are acing the audition and securing a job before you even get out of college. That’s just one reason why the internship is so vital to career advancement.
And remember that it’s not just you that is on display. The company is auditioning for fresh new talent. That’s you! This is a way for you to see if this company is right for you, or even if the career itself is right for you. You’re still in school technically, so the stakes aren’t too high yet. That makes the internship a great way for you to test the waters and see if this is right for you. If it is, great! If not, you have many other choices that you can pursue. You’re likely to learn a lot during this period and those concepts can be applied elsewhere when necessary.