Okay, Smart Girls. I’ve given you a few reasons on why completing an internship before you graduate is a must; now I’m going to stretch it a bit further. In reality, one unpaid internship is not going to significantly increase your chance of securing a job when you graduate. In fact, it only increases your likelihood by 1 percent.
Internships have become so common place that you are expected to have one before you graduate. It doesn’t do the job of setting you apart, and that is your ultimate goal.
The best solution: get multiple internships.
So as it turns out, having a paid internship increases your chances of securing a job by about 26 percent, according to a study done by The National Association of College and Employers. Paid internships are usually highly competitive, and require that you have experience in order to apply. So the key to securing a paid internship is to start off with a few unpaid internships.
So what’s the best solution? Start early! I know that’s easy to say from the other side of things (I didn’t get my first internship until the summer before my junior year), but starting early will give you more scheduling flexibility. I know of at least three internships I want to complete before I graduate, and I don’t have a lot of time to do it.
Learn the Culture
Having multiple internships will allow you to work for different companies in and out of your field. This allows you to experience different company cultures and learn what type of environment suits your style best. Do you like the abstract free-flowing working style of Google or the office rules set down by Yahoo? What kind of managers do you work well with? Do you need extra guidance and constant reinforcement or do you prefer to be left to your own devices? What kind of noise allows you to best complete your work? I tend to write better with background noise, but need almost complete silence to read anything semi-complex.
Learn Your Own Working Style
In college we all tend to have the same studying techniques and ways of learning, but that doesn’t mean that it’s what works best for you. We learn many habits in college that might make us successful, but won’t work in the business world… like cramming for a test and forgetting all the information five minutes later. Multiple internships will allow you to see various work strategies and decide what’s best for you.
Completely Change Your Mind
We’ve all heard the stories about the graduate who spent 4+ years on an education and then got to her “desired” field and hated it. Don’t live that story. Cut yourself some slack. If your chosen field is nothing like you imagined it would be, rethink your career choice. No one will fault you for taking an extra semester of school so you don’t wind up in a miserable dead-end job in 10 years.
Learn New Skills
Different companies do things differently. As a social media intern at one company, your sole responsibility might be to update the Facebook and Twitter accounts, while at another you may be using CSS and HTML to cultivate their website. These skills are extremely valuable and might just push your résumé to the top of the pile.
Grow Your Connections
Some of the best connections you’re going to make will be at your internships. Triple the internships and you triple the size of your network. You’re getting great exposure in your field by working with well-established companies. And remember: it’s not who you know, but who knows you.
It’s a Résumé Builder
Your résumé, your LinkedIn profile, and your cover letter will all look better to a potential employer if you have more to put down. It’s that simple.
Getting a job after graduation is hard. No internships will only give you a 36 percent chance of securing a job before graduation. I don’t want any of you Smart Girls blindsided and wishing you had done more early on. Having multiple internships is a surefire way to put you ahead of the pack, and that much closer to your dream career.