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Welcome students! You are considering an internship, so you have reached this site. Many of you, however, are unsure about what an internship involves. Maybe you have heard stories of internships—that it's a lot of work with little or no pay and that most interns have very little power and are trusted with very little, if any, responsibilities. There is some truth to those stories, but the larger truth is that you get out of the internship what you put into it. You can do paid and unpaid internships. Some interns find themselves doing a myriad of different tasks, while others—those who don't step forward, take the initiative, and ask for more challenging tasks—do the same set of tasks over and over again. So why do an internship? There is much more to an internship than just getting paid. That is why it's important to know HOW an internship can benefit you and what YOU can get out of an internship—if you put in the work.
Gain valuable on-the-job experience. In your professional communication classes, the instructors attempt to simulate, where possible, actual activities you might encounter in your future careers. What they can't give you is the actual experience of being in an office, studio, or other work site and managing communications among your supervisors and coworkers while you are working on several projects at once. As an intern, you might have to handle phone calls while writing up an email to possible event sponsors or setting up an interview of a local businessman. You will be under deadline pressures and learn how to multitask. In short, you will get a taste of the every day activities you will be performing in your future career.
Build your resume. Students often are employed part-time outside of their career field while they earn a degree. This employment is valuable on a resume; it shows future employers that you have work experience and have been trusted with certain responsibilities. However, these part-time jobs are often not in your future career field. An employer is interested to see what experiences you have in your chosen field. An internship can you give you a leg up on the competition.
Network. When seeking employment, it's often just as much about who you know as it is what you know. An internship can provide you with a network of colleagues who may help you find a job once you graduate. Some interns are even hired by their supervisors.
- Learn about your own interests. Some interns report that as they learn more about what a job entails, they learn more about what sort of job they want when they graduate. An intern working as an event coordinator, for example, learned that much of the job involved calling numerous contractors and organizers and sitting at a computer managing schedules and coordinating the timing for all aspects of the event. Very little time was spent actually preparing a site for an event—and that's what had originally interested her. She learned more about what she wanted in her future career. She could change her future course work and/or her job search strategy based on what she learned.