Everyone tells college students their number one priority, as they approach graduation, is to begin developing their resume by taking internships. What no one really imparts to those would-be interns is what you should be getting out of an internship. Sure, you want something to put on your resume, but what else?
With that in mind, here are 8 things you should try to get out of an internship.
1. Professional Connections
Internships are an excellent opportunity to build professional connections. Unlike networking events, the people you connect with during an internship spend time with you in a professional setting and become familiar with your work. Therefore, these connections will be able to give you a strong recommendation in the future. Internships can also enhance your social life by introducing you to peers with similar interests.
2. Career Skills
Whether it’s how to write a concise email, answer a telephone, or shake a hand there is a professional way to do everything. Working in an office environment, even briefly, as an intern, you'll have the chance to observe how others operate and take on those attributes that you feel work best whether it’s communication, behavior, or office etiquette. This way you won’t end up making mistakes or ask a lot of questions in your first full-fledged job.
3. A Way to Apply Your Skills
Take your internship as the opportunity to test out the skills you developed in college and see how they work in the real world. By using your skills at your internship you'll get an idea of your own strengths and areas of skill that you’d like to develop. You’ll improve your chances of getting a job if you can show on your resume that you’ve already applied what you've learned at college in a professional environment.
4. Insight into Your Interests
When you're finishing college you can't be expected to know exactly what you want to do with your career. But if you use the internship wisely, you can figure out if a particular occupation is right for you. You can think of internships as career experiments. If you enjoy your internship and find some success, it can set the direction for your entire career. If you discover that you don’t like the area that you end up interning in, you might be exposed to other departments or specialities that interest you even more.
5. Experience Company Culture
Internships allow you to work in different kinds of companies to see what environment works best for you. Maybe you want try a small business, a large corporation, or a start up. Each of these businesses have unique opportunities and benefits. Without trying a variety of businesses it's hard to know where you'll best fit. An internship allows you to do just that.
Internships should award you with some kind of compensation--course credit, money, or a stipend. Stay away from any internship that doesn't offer any kind of benefit for your time and work. Also, if an internship pays well then chances are it will be more demanding and offer better learning experiences.
7. New Skills
There’s a very good chance you’ll learn new skills at your internship. For example, you might end up learning a new software program, a type of analysis, or project management techniques. In the real world of employment, learning never stops, and it’s great to start adding to your skills inventory early.
8. A Job
You may approach an internship as an audition for a full-time job with a company. Apply yourself to the internship as if it’s a permanent, full-time job, and it might turn into one. Companies are always looking for dedicated, hard-working individuals. If you use your internship to demonstrate your abilities, they won't want to let you go.
Also, if you haven't landed an internship yet, you can search Simply Hired for internship opportunities.