While I have had jobs at places such as Starbucks and a gas station, work experience that is relevant to my field comes thanks to Western’s internship program that gave me the opportunity to do a 16-month internship at Autodata Solutions. If you are a student and your school offers an internship program, I suggest you do it. I will explain why and give some examples of my experience.
“What do I do now?” – Graduation
The first reason to do a paid internship is this question that many students (some of my friends included) ask when they graduate. If you do an internship, you will need to do applications and interviews. On top of that, you will likely get advice and guidance on how to do both of those from the people who are running the internship program at your school. This is something you will need to do when looking for a job in the future, so getting the experience and help doing it now will save you some stress in your graduating year. On top of that, you will make professional contacts at your workplace, so if you enjoyed interning there you may be able to put yourself in a good position to work there after graduation.
This was the case for some of my friends who decided they want to work after graduating and have jobs waiting for them as soon as they do. I, however, decided to do graduate school instead of going directly into the workforce, but made connections with some great people and now have references for my applications to graduate school and scholarships.
“Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg” – Experience
One thing I often hear friends who are looking for work say is, “I can’t apply to any of these, they need at least 1 year of experience, but how do I get experience if I can’t get any jobs?!” or something along those lines. While some companies do this to filter out the number of applicants in the first place (they often still consider people with less experience), an internship is a great way to get your initial experience in the field. The best part is that the positions will not require you to have previous experience and you are generally given more room for error than a typical employee. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be given opportunities if you assert yourself. It really gives you an advantageous position to enter the working world.
“Skills to Pay the Bills” – Skills
While school can teach you many great theories and concepts, an internship gives you an opportunity to apply those to real world problems. The application of your knowledge is a wonderful thing to be given an opportunity to do since it will help reinforce that what you are learning is worthwhile and has a purpose. You will also be introduced to new things that you may not have learned at school. Additionally, some workplaces may provide you with a mentor who can be an invaluable source of information in your field.
In my experience, I had a mentor who taught me many things about testing that I had never learned in school. Even other co-workers would take opportunities to teach me new things when they felt they were applicable to tasks I was working on. Some of the skills I learned were how to read and write proper test cases, different testing approaches, automation of API (application program interface) and GUI (graphical user interface) tests. I also learned new languages and frameworks as needed for tasks.
“You Have to Pay Them Back Eventually” – Loans
If you are taking student loans to get through school, then this gives you an opportunity to make more money than you may be able to make while being a full-time student and pay them off before interest starts to accumulate. Of course, this depends on your personal living situation and finances, so I can’t go into much detail here.
“Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain” – Conclusion
After finishing an internship, at the very least you will have some skills, experience, and contacts that relate to your field of study. These are all very valuable when you eventually look for work and are even valuable if you plan to continue studying. You are given the chance to apply yourself, and maybe find a place you love to work, and more importantly, find people you enjoy working with if you are lucky. You’ll also get an opportunity to make some more money than while you are a student. Take the opportunity, and believe me, the future you will be very grateful.
Have any specific questions about my internship? Feel free to ask in the comments. I’d also love to hear about what kind of experiences some of you may have had. What were some good or bad things about your internships? Are you willing to do an internship if you haven’t? Let me know!