If you think that interns only work in hospitals, you may be missing out on one of the greatest opportunities open to college students.
Internships are available in many fields, from computer science to botany. Some are paid positions; others pay only in experience. Some earn course credit; others do not. Some fall in the school year; others in summer. Some lead to permanent positions after graduation; others do not. Regardless of the particulars, internships provide hands-on experience in real world applications of what you study in class.
Many people think that the most important reason to take an internship is to build a resume. That is a great reason, but far from the only (or the best) one. An internship is a two-way test drive. The employer provides you experience and evaluates your abilities. You provide your talents and evaluate the career.
The chance to work in a field before entering the interview market represents a huge advantage. Two or three years studying law enforcement will teach you a lot about the criminal justice system, but a couple months as a clerk in a sheriff’s office will provide a much more vivid picture of a career as a police officer.
Internships teach a very valuable lesson: theory and practice aren’t always identical. For instance, after an internship in a software company, you may decide you’re more interested in selling than in writing code.
Internships offer tremendous experience. For that reason access to them is highly competitive. If you have any interest in an internship, learn everything you can about the application and selection process well in advance. Apply early and follow up on your applications. And if no internships are offered in your field, consider creating your own. Find an employer that would take you on for a semester, and take the idea to your department head. It can’t hurt.
Your internship might be just what you need to boost your college success!