4 Reasons Internships Prepare You for the Real World

By Madison White on January 29, 2017

Doing well in your degree is important, but what do you do when entry-level jobs require years of experience right away? There is one keyword that will help you: internships.

Internships provide massive amounts of opportunity for people not yet graduated. They can be done on generally flexible schedules and for short amounts of time. Internships allow you the rare ability to work in your field, or a similar field, despite having little or no experience.

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In this aspect, transitioning well from your educational field to a real-world job almost requires some internship experience. There are many reasons internships prepare you for the real world.

Here are four key reasons:

1. Grunt work

One great thing about doing internships is the ease of the initial shock of entry-level jobs. Because you’ve likely been studying hard during your undergraduate, or perhaps graduate degree, you’ve been doing very specialized and advanced things.

However, entry-level jobs can be a bit of a letdown when you realize you aren’t doing the high-level stuff, but the grunt work. Many of your initial duties will be boring, repetitive, and feel less fulfilling than you thought at first. However, many internships will also make you do a bit of the grunt work around the office, so you know what kind of balance to expect from a real-world first job.

This takes away the lag time in being productive and also helps you jump right into what you’re supposed to be doing. If you’re already fluent in the basics, it will take less time for you to move up the ranks.

2. Diversity

Depending on your university, you may have a very diverse student body or a very similar one. However, one thing usually stays the same when it comes to college student bodies: age. A majority of the students will be in their late teens to mid-twenties when it comes to undergraduate degrees, which means that besides the likely older professors, you’re only really being exposed to people similar to yourself and of similar experience.

However, when you enter an internship, you’ll realize that the scale of diversity expands even wider with age, background, education levels, and experience levels. An internship really helps you learn to navigate the many different people you’re going to be working for and working with.

If all your assumptions and work-ethic based actions center around your undergraduate peers, you may make some crucial mistakes when it comes to working with others. An internship beforehand will nurture those techniques to include a broader array of people.

3. Experience

You may be lucky to go to a university that cultivates a hands-on approach to learning, but for most of us, our learning comes through reading and lectures. However, reading and lectures are great for your personal knowledge, but really fail to enhance the skills needed for putting that knowledge into action.

Internships are a key factor in bridging the gap between education and industry. Internship coordinators are well aware of the educational background most of their interns will have. They are well-versed in techniques to build that knowledge into real-world skills.

As an additional note, a common complaint by entry-level applicants is the amount of experience needed to qualify for entry-level jobs. Internships are a great way to earn that experience even before graduation and get a leg up on the other applicants.

4. Connections

As you grow older and learn even more about the tricks of the real world, you’ll soon realize that you’re more likely to be hired just because you know someone. Of course, it is always important that you possess the skills and education needed to fill the role, but almost all positions are filled simply by word of mouth.

Because of this, connections become extremely important to thriving in real-world jobs. One of the reasons entry-level jobs receive so many applications is because many applicants don’t know anyone yet and this is their only way to get their foot in the door.

However, an internship allows you the time and resources to make those connections early on. It may not be that you are offered a job at the same company after the internship ends, but your coworkers and managers may be likely to call you if they hear something open up elsewhere. You can also talk to the company about other similar companies they have connections to. An internship coordinator is a great person to have as a reference or recommendation.

Indeed, the list of reasons could be nearly endless. If internships are available to you, it would be a mistake not to capitalize on all the benefits it could have for your career now and later. The knowledge and experience you gain about the real world from an internship become an invaluable resource.

My list of places traveled is growing but will never exceed my list of places to travel next.

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