Planning an Internship into Your Education,
Speaking from the Voice of Experience
Bear with me here, this is going to be, admittedly, a bit of a “do-as-I-say” “not-as-I-did” piece. Here’s what I mean. When I went into college, I went in with the attitude of super gung-ho, optimistic, willing to work the wee hours of the night and do whatever it would take, to get the grades that would land me the dream, high-paying, one-of-a-kind job and all the glory that went with it. And, basically, that’s how I went into college and exactly how I came out too. I lived and breathed school. I put full-time jobs on hold, I put social life on hold, and I did school. I graduated the top student in my college, I graduated with a 4.0 G.P.A. and was one of the top 40 graduates out of the entire 2,500 plus graduating students from my university. And I thought, oh so foolishly, that I’d done it. I’d sacrificed what I thought was a great deal at the time, but I was walking away with the grades and diploma that would soon make up for it all.
But here’s the thing: employers don’t really care much, (if they even care at all) what your grades were. In fact, turns out most of them don’t bat an eyelash at a 4.0. They care a whole lot about experience though, and they care most about proven success. And guess what, there’s really only one solid way to get that: an internship. If I could go back, I would plan an internship (or two) into my college education just like I planned everything else, like how many credits a year I would take and how to fit in the required core classes. If you need 150 credits to graduate, you should just tack on an internship too. Because that internship, and that stint of however many months, is honestly going to be very crucial to you finding the job that you want, especially given the state of the economy and the average job market at the moment. It’s brutal out there right now. And by brutal, I mean you’re probably going to be fighting lines and thousands of applicants in some areas. I applied for a job a year ago in which the interviewer told me he had cut the ad after just 2 hours of posting online due to the response of 1,200 applicants. Unheard of numbers are applying for single jobs right now.
So, let’s look at this logically. Because, I know, what you’re thinking: internship = unpaid donated time, time I definitely don’t have. I know the thoughts so well: “Time? Like I have any of that to spare?” And you’re right. You probably don’t think you have time for it. But, if you want to graduate and start paying off those student loans, you’re going to have to make some time for it. And, as it turns out, some internships do pay. You just have to do a little research.
Plus, internships, on a very basic level for obtaining a future job, just make sense. College is a whole lotta book work, and while sure, good grades do prove you can put your mind to something and do it, they don’t show you that you can actually do anything that the company needs to know you can do. And lots of people have good grades. Not lots of people have proven, valuable experience. It’s your chance to stand out. Your chance to be one step ahead of your countless competitors.
So, my suggestion? Stop thinking of an internship as an option that you can think about and consider. Start thinking about it as a must. I think you’ll be glad you did, and if there’s any sacrifice involved now, I wholly believe it will more than pay itself off in the years to come.
Jocelyn Anne, a student of English literature, is now working as a freelancer. At the moment, you’ll find her working alongside Electrical Heater, writing and blogging about their latest products.