Why Internships Matter


A Smart Girl gets an internship. I know the idea of adding more work onto your ceiling-high pile – for little or no pay – is not the most appealing idea. A lot of students are still graduating without taking on at least one internship. Somewhere along the way we decided they weren’t all that necessary. I don’t know who started this myth – but it’s just wrong.

Reasons (Excuses) Not to Get an Internship:

Excuse #1 “I don’t know what I want to do yet!”

This is a great chance for you to figure out which sector of your field you want to pursue. For example, I’m a communications major. Extremely broad, I know. I have narrowed down my choices to journalist, social media manager, PR guru, and grant writer (for nonprofits). That’s still a pretty large list. But I will use my internship experience to help me focus my projected career. And it doesn’t cost me a dime!

Excuse #2 “I don’t have the time!”

The beauty of interning is that companies understand – and even expect – that you have a busy schedule. You can meet with the intern coordinator to work around your school schedule. Keep in mind this may be one of the only times companies will give you this kind of flexibility.

Excuse #3 “I don’t have the money!”

Okay, I’ll admit this is a tough one. Many internships aren’t paid, or are paid close to minimum wage. I, too, have had to work myself through school and this was always my biggest excuse. I went from being in a flexible retail job to working 9-5 Monday – Friday. You still have options!

  • If your work schedule doesn’t allow office hours, search for virtual internships. These allow you to work from home, but still get the valuable experience and build your resume. Always be up front with the company about your schedule and availability. Downside: You may not get as much personal interaction with your employer and mentor. It’s still better than no experience.
  • Search for paid internships. While they are harder to find and in higher demand, they do exist. Often these types of internships will require you to have at least one completed internship under your belt before applying for them.
  • Ask for gas money. Some internships that don’t pay a regular wage might be able to offer help in other ways. Travel expenses and in-office lunches are a great way to save some money.

With the national unemployment rate still at 7.5 percent, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, good grades just aren’t enough to secure a job after graduation. You need experience.

To-do list

Here are just a few of the MANY benefits of internships:

Get Hands-On Experience

This is the #1 reason to get an internship. College is great for teaching theory, but you need to be able to put it into practice. Future employers need to know you’ve been tested in some professional capacity. Think of this as your probationary period. They are actually teaching you what you need to know to succeed in that field. It’s that simple.

Get Hired

What is the goal of higher education? To get a job. What do internships do? Help you get a job! That’s right Smart Girls, you are more likely to get hired somewhere you previously interned.

Some jobs might not be able to hire you once you’ve completed your internship, but this doesn’t close the door on your future with that company. Ask for recommendations, cultivate your connections, and most importantly – stay in touch! Maybe they’ll be able to offer you something in the future.

Build Your Network

Sometimes, Smart Girls, internships don’t work out the way you would like. Maybe your personality doesn’t mesh with the company culture. Or you realize nonprofits are your passion, and the business world is too cold and impersonal. Start focusing on the people. Your mentor, department heads, even other interns can be great future assets. They hold the key to your future job through their connections. At the very least you can ask for a letter of recommendation for future employers. Just don’t give up, even if it isn’t the internship you were hoping for!

Rule Out (or in) Career Fields

You, Smart Girl, have the benefit of still being in college. College is the time to change your mind. A lot. If you’re struggling to pick a field to break into, an internship is the perfect way for you to experience your options.

Smart Girls, I know you aren’t the kind to make excuses. You are the ones in front screaming “Pick Me!” You will never have more time and more opportunities than you do right now. Take advantage!


Rebecca Slawter

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