If your summer holiday plans have fallen through in the last couple of weeks, you are not definitely alone. Whether it was a J1 in the States, summer in Canada, a trip around South-East Asia or Interrailing around Europe, with all the travel restrictions in place there is a lot of uncertainty around when exactly things will return back to normal.

As a busy college student, I questioned how useful an internship would be for me. I had to complete one as part of my coursework so the decision was effectively taken out of my hands but most people don’t fully realise just how important internships can be once you leave college.

Not only do they give you a great opportunity to learn more about your personal career goals and interests, but you also get the chance to develop the knowledge, skills and most importantly experience that you’ll need to be successful. Here are four ways that internship experiences could potentially benefit you not only right now, but in the future too:

  1. Get experience in your chosen field

Internships offer a great way to get hands-on, professional experience that will be valuable during your job search. Not only does it look great on a CV, but you also have the opportunity to talk to employers about things that you have actually done.

College work and projects are great and hugely beneficial in some contexts but when good academic achievements are paired with relevant internship experience, you have a very real competitive advantage over other candidates when you’re looking for jobs.

2. Discover what you like to do

A major benefit of my internship experience was that it opened the doors for possible future employment as I grew my professional network. Additionally, not only did they help me determine if I am a good fit for certain positions, I can see if a company would be a good fit for me.

The inverse of that is of course that you could also find out what you do not want to do with your career. Although it’s not enjoyable at the time, a bad internship can teach you a lot about whether a particular industry, even though you think you might like it, actually interests you or suits your skillset.

Working as an intern can allow you to understand more about myself and where you would like to work, as well as the type of work that you would enjoy doing in my future career.

3. Work in a learning environment

The nature of internships is that more often than not, you don’t have years of experience behind you and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. A huge part of doing an internship is learning about a given industry and how to apply the knowledge that you’ve learned in the classroom to real-life business situations, as well as develop new skills that will allow you to be successful in your career.

You’ll also get the chance to work with and learn from more senior employees who, if you’re lucky, will work to ensure equip you with the right skills to potentially move into a permanent role further down the line.

4. Earn money

Unfortunately, not all companies pay interns and we would encourage people in our programme to avoid those companies where possible. If you do manage to get a paid internship, it will allow you to earn something while also potentially having a flexible schedule that works around a part-time job you have in college.

I found the internship I did on Glassdoor but there are numerous other resources such as Indeed and Grad Ireland where you can filter your search to look for specific industries or companies.

Conclusion

By pursuing internships as a college student, not only do you add to your professional network, you learn more about which career paths are right for you. In addition to gaining valuable experience in your field, you also get experience in an environment where mistakes are expected and where you have extra support.

Taking advantage of internship opportunities during your college years is a great way to get a head start on your job search and prepare for a successful career in your field.

To learn more about internships you can reach out to us here at Gradguide and we would be happy to see what we can do for you.

Gradguide is a career guidance and mentorship program designed to help college students and recent graduates land their first job in tech. We pair you with a mentor to help improve your CV, find the right roles to apply for, prepare for interviews and seek referrals to the best companies around.