How One Summer Can Improve Your Career Prospects

Thanks to the weather we’ve had for the past few weeks, summer certainly seems a long way off. After the winter finally ends, and the spring yields to summer, students will find themselves with months of free time. Some will work part-time jobs while others will be content to work on their tans. If you haven’t finalized your summer plans (or those of your favorite students), there are many reasons to consider applying for an internship program.

Workers reviewing business documents

A summer internship provides a great opportunity to learn about a field or industry. After a few months of day-to-day work in your chosen field, you’ll see how it operates and you’ll have a greater understanding of relationships with supervisors, colleagues and clients. A short-term commitment is an excellent way to “test drive” your career path to see if it really suits you.

Scientist working with test tubes

Internships also provide an opportunity to supplement your education with hands-on learning. Interns gain practical experience in a professional setting, where they can apply the knowledge they have gained through their coursework. Universities often encourage students to become interns; indeed, the internship experience is so valuable that many degree programs actually include an internship as a requirement for graduation.

Man holding a business card

The connections that an intern can make within an industry are often found to be a great benefit of the experience. Internship programs often connect participants with one another, building a cohort of students and recent graduates who share similar interests or career goals. Additionally, if you make a good impression on the colleagues and supervisors who work with you, they may be willing to act as references or to alert you of upcoming employment opportunities within the company or the field. In many cases, working as an intern can increase your chances of receiving a job offer.

Internship opportunities are available in nearly all industries; while most are aimed at the college crowd, there are positions for high school students as well. University departments usually keep listings of internship opportunities in their fields, and high school guidance offices often know of local opportunities for teens. If you feel like doing some research on your own, you can find a great number of resources online. Some internship openings are advertised on employment search websites, and there are also dedicated sites that only deal with internship listings. (Local residents, check out our summer internship program.)

When you apply, you should be aware that internships can be fairly competitive. Programs that are well known or offer high pay rates may receive as many as 60 applications for every open position. Remember that you are essentially applying for a job, so be sure to present yourself professionally.

Have you worked as an intern? Do you have a lead on an internship position? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below to share your knowledge.

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