By Greg Grossman - March 20th, 2017
You may have participated in an internship during your education, but it’s not just for students. Internships can be incredibly valuable if you’re considering entering a new industry or role. Read the post below to learn more about why internships are important, and decide if it’s the right move for your career goals.
Dr. Greg Grossman is the lead faculty of CSU-Global’s organizational leadership program, and a practicum/internship instructor for the university. In the post below Dr. Grossman discusses why internships are important for novices in their desired career field, as well as working professionals. See how an internship may help you grow your career as well as next steps for finding the right internship for you.
While an internship, or practicum, may not be appropriate for everyone in every situation, it can certainly be useful in landing the job you want. Internships are important because they provide an opportunity for you to both gain experience and showcase skills to employers in a competitive job market.
Consider that in 2015, 63% of college students indicated that they had taken part in some type of internship. That means the majority of job seekers will have this experience, will you?
Why you should get an internship
According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), four in five employers, or 79%, want universities to put more emphasis on internships that teach students to apply knowledge and skills to real world settings. That tells us that internship experience is clearly in demand by employers.
An internship is a way to differentiate yourself from the stacks of other applicants who have also applied for the job you want. Employers want people with industry-specific experience so make sure the internship you choose will be applicable to the next step in your career. Often times, an organization will hire an intern if they’ve proven their value during the internship.
Consider that in 2015, 63% of college students indicated that they had taken part in some type of internship.
The relationship between intern and host organization is mutually beneficial. As an intern, you get to test drive a career and determine if you might like to work for a specific type of organization. The employer gets an opportunity to test drive and assess a potential employee’s abilities, while gaining an entry-level employee at a traditionally lower wage.
If both parties enjoy the relationship, this is a win-win scenario for the employer and the intern.
Is an internship right for me?
You need to consider both your experience in the field and the time you have available for the internship. An internship is a significant commitment and you must consider your schedule.
If you have a full-time job, attend school, have family responsibilities or hobbies, taking on an internship may be a difficult option. In many cases an internship can be completed in as little as 10 hours per week, but the terms of each agreement are different. Other internships can be yearlong, full-time, or even paid.
Consider the experience you currently have in the field. If you’re a recent graduate or changing industries after unrelated experience, an internship is a great way to get started and potentially open doors for the future. For many, this is reason enough to pursue an internship in some form.
On the other hand, if you do have experience in the field you want to advance in, you might consider other courses of action. Shadow the person who has the job you want, invest in your education to increase your knowledge and skills, or speak to your superiors about next steps toward your goals.
Practicum vs. internship
Practicums are a type of internship that provide more oversight in the form of a faculty member or mentor, as well as an experienced site supervisor. Practicum candidates typically have no previous experience and the length of time is shorter compared to internships.
In some situations a practicum, or a shorter internship, may lead to a longer internship or paid internship opportunities later. It’s not uncommon for students to participate in two internships during their university years, or immediately after graduating from a degree program.
How to find an internship
The best place to start looking for an internship is right outside your front door! What types of companies and services do you have down the street? Consider the corner drug store: CVS has several paid and unpaid internship programs; the coffee shop: Starbucks has an internship program; or even your local WalMart or Costco, where management and IT intern programs are available. These are just a few examples of many.
Virtual internships are offered by a number of organizations, including the federal government. The U.S. Department of State has an e-intern program with over 300 internship projects listed for 2017
I recommend internships.com and experience.com among the many internship-related sites out there. If you’re a student, utilize your university’s career services. If you’re a CSU-Global student or alumni, you can access the Career Center through the student portal.
If you’re a recent graduate, trying to break into a new industry, or questioning a change, an internship is a productive and valuable way to look before you leap. Consider an internship to gain experience, make connections, and add the qualifications employers are seeking to your resume.
To learn more about the importance of internships, watch Dr. Grossman’s presentation at the 2016 CSU-Global Career Expo, “The Value of Internships and Experiential Learning.”