5 Reasons You NEED A College Internship

By  Ivy Kuo

Posted on April 09, 2018

As a recent graduate (Class of ‘17, woohoo!) and a working woman currently on job #3, I can confidently attribute my career to the college internships I had.

Securing a college internship is VITAL to avoiding the stress of job-hunting after graduation! I’ve seen so many friends struggle to find jobs, and I want to help you avoid this pitfall. Here’s why!

1. Figure out Your Career Path

I know that the biggest obstacle for students is figuring out what kind of career they want. We live in an era of information overload, and the abundance of job roles can be overwhelming. Most colleges prepare students to be scholars, not employees.

However, an internship can give you real-life experience of working in a field of your choice so that you can figure out what you want to do! How exciting is that?

Think about job searching as if you were shopping for shoes. When you browse a shoe store, overwhelmed by the amount of styles and colours, you don’t pick up the first pair and purchase it! Instead, you try on various sizes and styles, walk around the store, and then decide if you want that pair of shoes.

Similarly, you can “try out” jobs by interning or volunteering. When your program’s only a few months long, it forces you to learn quickly, while removing the pressure of knowing if this is “the one.”

And when an internship isn’t right for you, that’s okay! It’s over in a few months, and you still gained valuable work experience and connections. And then… onto the next one!

You can also use CareerWaze’s to help you discover your career path! It uses AI-driven technology to recommend jobs based on your existing skills. Sign up at learn.careerwaze.com.

2. Gain Experience = Gain Confidence

As a fresh college grad, the hardest part of job searching is the constant rejections, which really whittle away at your self-esteem. Believe me, I’ve been there! Before my internships, I lacked confidence because I didn’t have enough accomplishments to speak about.

However, through working in 3 internships and being involved as a student leader in 10+ college organizations, I quickly developed the confidence I needed to ace my job interviews as a post-grad.

When I was interviewed for Apple at the end of 2017, I was hired 10 minutes after leaving the interview. Why? Because my confidence in my work abilities shined through, and I had success anecdotes from my internships.

The more experience you have, the more confidently you’ll be able to speak about yourself in interviews! And as we all know, job offers are dependent upon your confidence, because employers need to believe in you to hire you. Because if you don’t think your skills are valuable, then who will?

3. It’s a Competitive Market Out There

I didn’t realize how truly competitive the job market was until I was thrown into the real world. It seemed like every employer required “3-5 years of experience” for an entry-level job, which completely defeats the purpose of a junior role!

All of my friends had to go through dozens of applications (sometimes hundreds), and several job interviews, before they landed offers that was a good fit for them.

How do you stand out from the crowd? Your personality and attitude is vital, of course, but so is your experience! Who is an employer going to hire: a fresh college grad with 0 experience, or a fresh college grad who has worked on exciting projects, has the required skills, and knows how to collaborate with coworkers?

Here’s an example for you: despite the amount of experience I have, I’m still on my third contract job, and I’ve yet to obtain a “full-time” job (with benefits, 401k, etc.) What’s the difference, and why does it matter?

With an increasing number of jobs converted to contracts or outsource (especially in tech, which is what I work in), the number of full-time jobs is dwindling--and not just for fresh college grads. I know plenty of experienced employees who have been in the workforce for 5-10 years, and are only able to obtain contract jobs.

But all is not lost. Here’s a hack: The classmates who obtained full-jobs straight out of college had all worked their butts off through numerous internships in university. An internship is, after all, the closest thing we can get to real “work experience” before graduation. And some of those internships were converted to offers, which brings me to my next point…

4. Job Offer from Company You Intern For

Imagine this scenario: you just finished 4 years of rigorous studying, you turned in your last final ever, and all you want to do is spend time with friends and family, and. Oh… and they’re all asking about what your post-grad plans are. You have nothing lined up. Great!

How stress-free would it be to not even have to job hunt out of college? The last thing you want to do during this time is worry about apps and interviews.

If you performed well during a internship, it’s highly likely that you’ll secure a full-time offer from your employer. Better yet, express your interest of working full-time to your intern supervisor so that he/she can ensure you’re receiving the appropriate projects to “prove” yourself.

In fact, large companies such as Facebook and Google actually created rigorous internship programs with the purpose of screening potential employees. What better way to know if a person is a good company fit, than observing their performance over a few months? It’s a true win-win: it saves time and resources for the company, and it offers interns invaluable experience.

5. Get Mo’ Money

This is probably the most straight forward reason, but the least talked about!

Of course, we all want paid internships (and if you can secure one, more power to you!). However, the unfortunate fact is that most internships are unpaid, especially if they’re at mid-sized to small companies.

However, while the internship may not directly pay you, it can pay off in the long run (ha, see what I did there?).

Not only does it offer you experience, but when you do receive a job offer in the future, you can actually negotiate for a higher salary if you have more experience. While recruiters have a salary range in mind, your negotiable pay depends upon how much experience you have.

At Apple, I was one of the highest paid on my team, due a combination of luck and my amount of my work experience. So, all those unpaid internships in college really paid off!

I highly recommending using CareerWaze, a free service that can help you explore various jobs, find a career path based on your existing skills, and browse internship listings. You can sign up for free at learn.careerwaze.com!

Ivy Kuo
Associate Product Marketing Intern, CareerWaze

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