University students always look towards their graduation with a sense of accomplishment for seeing their undergraduate education through and anticipation of getting started with their careers almost immediately afterwards. With increasing unemployment rates however, many of them find too late that just graduating – even with a high GPA – is no guarantee of a good job. With the increasing number of graduates churned out from universities yearly, finding students with high GPAs isn’t hard anymore, so what will separate you as a graduate from your peers?
University officials and employers almost unanimously maintain that partaking in internships sets students apart from their peers and is key to getting lucrative employment in today’s tough job market. Good grades are important, but experience is what more often than not gives you an edge over other applicants.
Outlined here are the top 7 reasons why internship experience is just as important as your degree.
- Trial-run in your chosen field: Internships are meant to be an introduction to your career path and are supposed to show you what a typical job in your chosen industry would entail. Believe it or not, there have been instances where an intern changed careers after experiencing what a day job in their chosen niche felt like. Just like taking a car you consider buying for a test-drive before you make up your mind, having internship experience gives you the real measure of a job to help you make up your mind on your career path.
- Real-world experience: The main reason why employers value applicants with internship experience is that they have real world experience in their fields. Internships give you a better understanding of your field and enable you better relate what you learn in class with real-world applications
- Networking: Sometimes it’s not what you know – it’s who you know. An internship is the perfect opportunity to make a memorable impression on the senior staff of a company, which will be invaluable later on. If it so happens that a job at your place of internship doesn’t work out, these connections will be important to getting a job in other establishments.
- CV: Having internship experience that is relevant to your major will give you an edge over other applicants who have none. Your degrees are important, but employers want to know you have real life skills to do a good job. make sure your CV shows internship experience that is relevant to your field.
- Confidence: There is something to be said for starting at a new job knowing you have prior experience which will make your work all that easier. This confidence shows in interviews and gives a much-needed edge. Knowing the rate at which you will be working as well as the workload you will be taking on and what will generally be expected of you is an advantage anytime.
- References: The good connections you make during your internship experience will come in handy when a reference is requested by a company looking to hire you. Keep in mind that using friends and family as references is poor business practice.
- Getting hired: This is probably the singular most important reason behind an internship. If you like the duties you performed, your coworkers and the company you interned for, eventually getting a job at your place of internship would be a big win and probably the perfect place to start your career. Ensure you make good impressions on both colleagues and superiors everywhere you intern to better your chances of getting a job in one of them after graduating.
Keep in mind that good grades and your degree, while important do not show experience or a good work ethic – which companies looking to hire value so well. Internship experience gives you an edge over your peers and could be the difference between getting a job straight out of the university or not.