Jul 6, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

We know.  It’s already summer.  It’s never too early to think about opportunities for next summer—and maybe even a late-summer opportunity this year.

Why are they so important?  It’s simple.  Internships give you valuable experience that can help you secure a job you want.

Let’s look at six in-depth reasons why internships are critical for success—and how you can maximize your chances of finding the right one.


1. Discover the real world.

Working as an intern gives you hands-on professional experience.  You’re not just there to do errands and make coffee—you’re there to work.  Bigger companies, like Facebook and Microsoft, for example, have internship programs in place to ensure that interns earn real experience.

Interested in interning at a smaller company?  No worries.  You can do that, too.  Just make sure you have someone to guide you through the process so that you can gain as much real world experience as possible. 


2. Create your network.

While the internet is here to stay, there’s something to be said for face-to-face contact.  By interning, you begin to create that professional network.  How?  You interact with people. 

Not only is it critical to your professional success, it will make an impact on your personal choices too. 

When you intern, you gain opportunities to develop professional connections that could be beneficial to your career.

Yes—you can attend a networking event without doing an internship.  While that’s good, the internship gives you a more intimate understanding of companies and organizations—and the people in them.


3. Top up your resume.

A great resume is a key to unlocking your chance for that interview you want..  Think of your resume as an initial handshake with a company—it’s their initial impression of you.  A solid internship will prevent your resume from ending up in the trash heap. 

A summer internship or a longer one will show a prospective employer that you mean business.  Be sure to add it to your experiences and ask your supervisors if you can list them as references.


4. Earn university credit.

Your internship experience counts not only toward your professional goals, but your academic ones, too.  Many colleges and universities offer credit for internship experiences.

How do you find out?  Ask.  Talk to your advisor or your career-services office to find out how you can make that internship work for your academic life, too. 


5. Test your career plan.

Remember when we said “no strings attached?”  Well, there are none.  This is an opportune time to try something.  If you don’t like it, guess what?  You’re not stuck with it. 

The summer internship is a perfect time test drive your career plans. 

Let’s say you’re a marketing major and you land a summer internship doing marketing research—and you don’t like it.  Don’t fret.  You’re not tied to it.  Finish the internship, do a great job, and move on.  Do something else next summer.

If you love it?  Take more courses in it—and find another internship for the following year.  Better yet?  Go back to the same company if you loved it and see what you can do. 

It’s all about opportunity.  This is your time.  Take it. 


6. Gain confidence.

This might be the most important benefit of the summer internship.  Build your confidence.  Know you can do it—and you don’t know unless you try, right?

The summer internship gives you the chance to build your stores, so that when you’re ready to go on that job interview, you have the skills, the experience, the desire, and the confidence to make it happen.

Find the right opportunity and go for it.  Love theater?  Intern at one.  Love marketing?  Find a company that intrigues you.  Love marketing and theater?  Find an internship that combines both and work on a marketing project for a theater company.

Bottom line?  The options are limitless.  You need to have direction and drive—and if you need help?  Ask.  Lots of people out there want to help you.






Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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