As we proudly march forth into a talent-first economy, a solid internship experience can prove to be one of the most critical industry exposures you can pick up in college. Most universities now have a summer internship or final year industry project built into their curriculum. If yours doesn’t, it might be a good idea to proactively look for one. Here’s why -
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Let’s face it, our education system is still in a time warp. A real workplace with adult opinions, experienced professionals and people management styles is what you gain to pick up. It takes a real work place to understand that a successful career needs a lot more than solid technical skills. It needs soft skills, empathy, teamwork, often a certain level of assertiveness and confidence. Internships make the transformation from college to work slightly less intimidating as it provides a first-hand experience of what to expect.
Internship also presents an opportunity to network even before you formally set foot into the field. Social media networking is great, but reasonably new as far as career networking is concerned. A lot of seniors in the industry would be more keen if they have a first-hand performance context to back your profile and resume.
Even as a fresher, an internship if done right gives you an opportunity to mention relevant projects and/or brand names on the resume – an immediate edge over someone with no such experience.
This holds true especially if your graduate degree is in a generic stream and you are uncertain about future prospects. For instance, if you are an arts graduate with interest in advertising, an internship in an ad agency will get you exposure with different departments like creative, planning and new capabilities like social and digital media. When you do go for a masters degree or decide on the professional calling, you would have made an informed choice rather than hearsay.
Not only does an internship showcase your initiative in building a career profile proactively, it also gives you exposure to cogs and bearing of the industry. When you apply for a postgraduate degree or a full time job, these positive traits will reflect in your conversation – always a plus point.
I remember my college days as endless party of late night conversations in the hostel, even later mornings, skipping classes out of youthful free-spiritedness or just boredom. Even the most ambitious, glued-in students have a life vastly different from the routine and accountability of working life. It is always good to get a head start so the transformation from a free-spirited student to a responsible employee is as not dramatic as it could be.
In short, a good internship prepares you for work life, its responsibilities and expectations, the demands of your chosen industry and the pros and cons of full-time employment. It increases your chances of getting noticed in a cluttered and competitive job market. I’d go as far as saying that your internship semester makes the three to five years of college worth your time.
If you are about to start an internship soon or are looking for one, here are some reads that will help –