Pursuing a college degree opens doors to career opportunities. Internships increase those opportunities by giving you real-world experience and professional connections in the field you are studying.
According to a Gallup poll, the No. 1 reason people think a college degree is valuable is its use in landing a good job. Gallup also found that only 27% of students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree between 2002 and 2016 had a good job waiting for them when they graduated. More than one in five graduates took seven months or longer to find a job after graduation.
But Gallup found good news among graduates who completed internships while they were students. They were more than twice as likely to land a good job related to their studies after college.
Internships allow you to apply what you are learning in class at work and develop skills specific to your chosen field.
Skill development is rated among top attributes students were looking for in a post-graduation job search, according to a report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). An internship can lay the foundation for these skills and give new graduates options for further development after completing their degrees. In some fields, such as healthcare, hands-on experience gained in an internship is vital to a student’s success.
The NACE report found that 60% of every graduating class since 2013 had an internship at some point in their college career.
A paid internship can help students pay for college, so they may start their careers with less student debt. Software engineering interns at Google make about $40 an hour, according to Glassdoor.com. Though not all internships pay that much, the money they do bring in can greatly offset the costs of college.
So how do you find internships?
- Talk to your academic advisor and/or professors about your goals. They may be able to give you tips on landing an internship. Also, take advantage of your college’s career resources. Then develop a resume that showcases your relevant experiences.
- Start early and get organized. Create a spreadsheet that lists application requirements and deadlines. Network with contacts in your field. Let them know what you’re seeking. Someone may put in a good word for you. Or they may share an opportunity you haven’t considered.
- Consider local startup businesses. These can be excellent places for paid and unpaid internship opportunities. And if their business takes off, you have your foot in the door of a growing company that likely will need to hire more full-time talent.
Finding an internship in your field requires planning, research, and networking. But the work is likely to pay off for years to come.