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A college education carries with it far more than a piece of paper. There’s the prestige of having earned a degree and the benefits of a better job outcome, both of which are only available to those who’ve pursued higher education. On the other hand, that degree comes with a price — often in the tens of thousands of dollars. Is there anything else students can do to earn some experience in the workplace without strapping themselves down with debt? There sure is: internships!

What Is An Internship?

Simply put, an internship is when you – as a student or trainee – agree to work somewhere often without pay in exchange for the ability to gain experience in a field. For instance, your student may graduate with a journalism degree but have zero post-college experience in the publishing industry. When your student realizes job prospects are slim without experience, he or she may decide to take on the editor internship opportunity at the local paper. Your student probably won’t receive money for it but he or she will get a foot in the door of the local paper and gain experience at the same time.

Internships help students gain experience they'll need in the workforce.

The concept of internships stems from the apprenticeships of yesterday. The difference between an apprenticeship and internship is that interns are usually more exploratory. An apprenticeship was a position people took on in an effort to learn a specific trade. Internships, however, allow the individual to pursue various interests. Also, unlike apprentices, interns aren’t bound to work for the same company once the internship is over. While internships can be paid or unpaid, most interns are not paid.

How Can Internships Help Students?

An internship can certainly help students decide which path to pursue in life. However, they also have the following benefits:

  • Gaining experience. Many job listings require a college degree and a certain amount of experience. This can be very discouraging to individuals who’ve just spent years in school only to come out and realize that a degree by itself isn’t enough. That’s where internships come in – students gain valuable real-world experience in the workforce.
  • Networking. Internships give students the opportunity to meet people in their desired field. Naturally, this means forming relationships with people. These relationships will definitely come in handy when it comes time to search for paid employment. Networking also teaches students how to conduct themselves in a professional atmosphere, something only those immersed in such an environment can really understand.
  • Beefing up the resume! Whether the internship is paid or not, it still counts as experience on your student’s resume. It can be tough to nail a job without proper experience as presented on a resume. Internships give students that on-the-job experience they need to round out their resumes.
  • Time management. Internships teach time management because students are required to abide by the same rules and regulations as everyone else in the office. This means scheduling events, meetings, campaigns, etc. around the company’s time and schedule. Unfortunately, many students fail to learn time management until they enter “the real world,” so this is a great chance to start learning.
  • Setting the stage. Many times, internships help lay the foundation for your student’s future career. Employers often choose from amongst their own interns when job positions become available.

Where Do We Begin to Search for Internships?  

The internet is a great place to start looking for internship opportunities. Some of the easiest places to search for internships are online job boards such as Indeed.com and LinkedIn. Just type “internship” or “intern” in the search box along with the type of job your student hopes to find. For instance, your student may type in “editor intern” and find several internship opportunities near you.

Another great place to find an internship opportunity is at a job fair. While most people are there for paying jobs, employers do send recruiters to find interns at such events. Finally, your student can check with an advisor at the local college and see if he or she can offer other avenues to finding internship opportunities.

Working as an intern can be a valuable experience for students. Students gain experience, time management skills, and networking opportunities to name just a few advantages. Now that school’s out, this may be the best time for your student to seek out an internship!

 

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