Internships provide real career and educational benefits to undergraduate and graduate- level students. Terms and conditions vary, but most internships have positive impacts on educational outcomes. There are a few disadvantages worth noting, but the pros outweigh the cons for students seeking internships.
Gain real world experience – An internship that relates to your field of study can help you better understand and apply the theories you learn in the classroom by seeing those theories applied in the real world. And when you transition from your academic career to the job market, you’ll have demonstrated a level of expertise that you cannot get from classroom instruction or research.
Get a taste of your chosen field – Sometimes; the application of what you learned is just not as fulfilling as the process of learning a discipline in school. Better to find out early-on whether you want to stick with the career path you have chosen. Internships might open your eyes to other employment avenues you have not considered.
Get a head start on developing a professional network – An internship offers you the opportunity to build relationships that can benefit you throughout your career. If your work impresses the company sponsoring your internship, you stand a better chance of being hired-on as a regular employee after you complete your internship and education. Even if the company at which you intern doesn’t hire you, demonstrating a good work record and attitude during your internship will almost certainly be rewarded with a good reference to enhance your chances of gaining employment elsewhere. You can also make beneficial contacts with others in your field, both for future employment prospects and information sharing.
Low or No pay – Most college students are financially challenged; relying on at least part-time jobs to get by. It can, therefore, be very tempting to take a job that has no relationship to your career goals, just to make ends meet. Thankfully, for-profit companies are pretty tightly regulated where internships are concerned, but even those that pay typically pay a significantly lower wage than regular employees would earn.
Some internships actually cost you money – Some management internships are taken for credit, putting you in the position of having to pay tuition and fees to participate, just like any of your other courses.
Nothing is guaranteed – You might hope that the prestigious firm that offers you an internship will appreciate your brilliance and impeccable work ethic. Such hope is natural. You need to realize, however, that the company or organization is under no obligation to offer you employment at the end of your internship or upon graduation. On the other hand, putting in some time with a company or organization gives you a solid image of what it is like to work there. You may actually find it is not a good fit for you, which is better learned as an intern than a new-hire.
If you go into the internship with your eyes open and your expectations realistic, it can be a profoundly rewarding experience for you; paving the way for a successful professional career. To benefit as much as possible, learn everything you can about the program. If possible, talk to others who have interned there before you. Find out what they did and didn’t like about the program, and carefully consider every detail. That way, as you weigh the pros and cons of various internship offers, you’ll be better prepared to commit to a rewarding program that fits well with your career goals.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from best people search. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @ gmail.com.