“But it’s my summer,“ claimed a friend of mine’s daughter about having to do a high profile internship in Philadelphia this summer. “All of my friends are at the beach or working at jobs that are fun.”
Now, she was half kidding, because this student put a lot of time and effort into getting a top-notch internship this summer, but a part of her really wanted to just stay a kid and goof off for one last time at a mindless summer job.
As the boomerang generation, many of you will be living with your parents again after college. One way to help prevent this is to get your professional act together early, while you are still in school and have access to the resources to get an internship. According to a study of parents, businesses, college students and educators by Bentley University, “82% of respondents feel that internships should be mandatory in order for students to gain real world experience.” An internship will help reduce the skills gap that exists when you move from college to career.
Here’s what a colleague of mine had to say about her internships:
“When I was in college I interned for a PR firm in Boston and a major TV station. Both were related to my communication major. What I learned from the TV station was that it wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. Yes, I did some cool stuff, but for the most part working at the station was like any other office job and I decided that a career in TV was not for me. That was a major revelation. The PR internship gave me exposure to another avenue and taught me how to write succinctly. After I graduated, I ended up working for a major PR firm and having that internship helped me get the job.”
The benefits of an internship are numerous. If you really don’t want to work during the summer, then get internships during the school semesters. Here are 10 things that an internship will give you besides a company name to put on your resume:
- Exposure to your desired field of work or to a field that you hadn’t considered.
- An idea of the size of the company that you want to work for. Maybe you aren’t the right fit for a large company and would do better working for a smaller one.
- A wake up call on how your skills stack up in the real world. According to a Voice of the Graduate study by McKinsey & Company, “1/3 of grads feel that college didn’t prepare them well for the world of work.” You can see how you feel.
- A strong start on building your LinkedIn network.
- Interaction with different generations and exposure to their work styles.
- An opportunity to explore different job titles and the workload differences by title.
- Practice getting up early, being on time and meeting deadlines.
- Validation that you are in the right field. According to McKinsey & Company, “half of all graduates would choose a different major if they could start over again.”
- A comparison of a skill you were taught and how it is actually performed in the real world. Preparing a slide presentation for a classroom can be very different than preparing one for a big company meeting.
- Feedback on your work performance. Make sure you ask for it and then implement the recommended improvements.
So, yes, it’s your summer, but it’s also your future, and you are the smarter one for getting a jump start on yours. Let your lifeguard friends move in with their parents after graduation. You’ll be getting your own place.
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