This post was written by intern Max McGehee.
Graduation—it’s an exciting and paralyzing time all wrapped into one. College seniors are coming to the frightening realization that their formal education will soon be ending, while many juniors accept they are one short year away from entering the “real world.” Most students have never had to question what they would be doing the following year because as one school year ends, a new one shortly begins. But what happens when the cycle is over? How can students prepare themselves for the new “norm”?
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 32.5 percent of Americans obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2015. These statistics are expected to exceed 50 percent by the 2021-2022 academic year. As more people are committing to higher education, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. Employers expect applicants to have specific skills already in hand, and students are turning to internships to gain that experience and set themselves apart from the competition.
Internships, paid or unpaid, provide invaluable experiences and are essential considerations in the hiring process. Here are five reasons you should become an intern during your undergraduate career:
Employers favor applicants with internship experience.
Serving as an intern makes you more qualified for your first job and future positions. Nearly all employers in NACE’s Job Outlook 2015 survey agreed they prefer hiring those with work experience, and nearly 75 percent of employers are looking for relevant work experience. Internships in your chosen field are the perfect opportunity to gain that experience.
Interns develop skills not taught in the classroom.
Employers want candidates to prove their abilities, not just list them on a resume. By completing an internship, you will develop a portfolio that demonstrates real-life examples of your skills and displays your qualifications beyond the classroom. Developing these skills will also help ease the transition from college to career as you begin your first job.
Your self-confidence increases.
One advantage to interning is the opportunity to learn and grow. Your employer understands that you’re gaining experience and shouldn’t expect you to perform tasks perfectly the first time. By learning from your mistakes and the guidance of others, you’ll be more prepared to handle similar tasks in the future—strengthening your confidence and self-esteem.
It provides detailed insight into your career field.
Determining what you enjoy is just as important as figuring out what you don’t. Interning provides insight into daily work life, company culture and job competition. You can determine if you are right for the position and if the position is right for you or if you should pursue other career paths. You may even discover new interests in your career field you didn’t know you had.
It speeds up the hiring process after graduation.
Another benefit of interning is the exposure you gain to new contacts. Working as an intern allows you to network within your field and make professional connections that may ultimately result in a job right out of college. Internships boost your resume and prove to employers that you are worth their investment.
Like any typical college student, I love coffee, but I did not want an internship where I’d be making it for other people. Instead, I sought an internship where I would gain real experience in the public relations industry—and at an agency where I would be considered a vital member of the team. I will leave the Bradford Group more qualified and adept in the PR field with more confidence in myself and my abilities as I search for a career after graduation.
If you’re wanting to set yourself up for success, apply to be an intern with the Bradford Group. This 8-week summer internship will provide opportunities to write press releases, pitch content, build media lists and more to prepare you for a career in public relations.
Are you ready for life after college? Apply to the Bradford Group by April 1!