While it is true that education is a gateway to many successes, real-world experience has proven to be a real winner when it comes to triumphing in the career journey. Just ask Discovery Communications Legal Administrative Assistant Tieast Plummer: “I chose to intern because at the time I wasn’t working directly in my field and I knew that in order for me to obtain a job after graduating, I would have to show relative work experience to my future employer.” As a student, there are many avenues to consider when it comes to landing your ideal career, and an internship (if not many) should definitely be on the list.
Does it fit? – Interning can be comparable to trying on clothes. They may look good on the hanger, but after putting them on, you may realize that outfit isn’t so flattering on you. While the term “internship” may have been seemingly synonymous with making coffee and filing papers a few moons ago, many of today’s internship experiences are far more hands-on. Plummer says of her past internship experience at CBS Radio, “I benefited from interning because what I thought I wanted turned out to not to be it. Interning allowed me to see first hand what I was getting into and making the decision as to whether that was something I wanted to do for my career. By switching into radio programming, I gained a lot of hands on experience in running a morning show, which turned into a 2 year job opportunity pre-/post-graduation.” Internships help you learn what it is that you’re good at and where you make a good fit. By interning, you give yourself an opportunity to research a company from the inside out. You may discover that while you thought the career path you were pursuing was a great fit for you, you thrive in other areas within or even outside of the same field. Internships allow you to eliminate the limitations you may place on yourself by exposing you to a plethora of career possibilities.
Establishing Connections – “Your network is your net worth.” You never know who it is that you are going to meet and how you will be able to be of assistance to one in another in the present, let alone the future. While what you know is extremely important, who you know can be the factor that tips the balance in your favor.
A Leg Up – Interning gives you a foot in the door. Today’s job market is highly competitive; long gone are the days when submitting a paper application and getting a phone call to interview for the job of your dreams are the most traditional route. Internship experience is like a 6-12 week on-site interview and training. Both the employer and the intern get an opportunity to feel each other out. A 2012 Internships.com survey showed that 69% of companies with 100 or more employees offered full-time jobs to their interns.
While some may be put off at the idea of working for free, making the decision to intern shows a sense of dedication, commitment, and passion for the field you are pursuing. Tieast Plummer offers this final word of advice to students considering internships: “Put your best foot forward when applying, and start early!” By doing your research and exploring as many internship endeavors as possible, you can secure a position that leads you down the path to your career destiny.