It’s getting hot outside, your professors continues to repeat the foreign word “finals” and your parents are lovingly interrogating you on your plans for the upcoming break.
As the title suggests, my answer to this question is: take an internship. I am on my 5th internship and counting, and I can honestly say it has been very rewarding and fun. And my job right now is to convince you to take at least one internship in the next few months. Here’s why:
1. Increase your value
Look at internships as a way to increase your value in an organization. Whether you go with a multinational, a small- to medium-sized enterprise, or even a startup, I suggest that you apply for companies that you think will give you an education on an industry, on latest trends and practices, and an opportunity to apply your learnings.
How you figure that out which company is right for you takes another blog post altogether, but a majority of it involves homework and asking questions.
2. Get paid (in relevant work experience)
Whether or not you get paid in money is very debatable. (No, really, it is .) Don’t let that be the main reason you take on an internship, unless you have a dire financial need. What you really want to look into is if you will gain the right contacts, exposure and experience.
Internships let you grow more knowledgable in your chosen field, and allows you to gain actual work experience even before you graduate. If you can make an impression on people you work with during your internship, those people may present you with future opportunities.
When I was applying for an internship in one company it helped that the manager still remembered me from her college days and that one of her officemates remembered me as that guy who wished him luck before a job interview.
3. Know what you want in your career
An internship provides you with a snapshot of your chosen industry and what the people in it do. It also gives you a chance to discover your ideal work routine and environment. More than choosing the right line of work, you start asking yourself these (honestly relevant) questions:
“What type of managers and officemates do you work best with?”
“How can you improve your productivity?”
“Do you need to move closer to work?”
“Do I have to be nice to everyone?”
“How do you handle an office crush?”
“What’s an income tax, and why do the smiliest of employees frown when I ask?”
There are many more questions, but keep in mind that, as an employee, you are pretty much tied to a company for 6 months. An internship, on the other hand, is usually shorter than that and you may have a better feel and answer to your own personal set of questions.
4. Be a student of life at work
“Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”
Someone else probably thought of this line, but I heard this quote from John Ireland in his podcast Mason and Ireland. The quote is not about skipping classes or dropping out. It is about learning beyond the textbooks.
And while not everything is about the textbooks, not everything is about the career either. I learned a lot about life in general from the people I met.
During the course of my internships, I met college sweethearts, and couples young and old, engaged and married, who gave me dating and relationship advice. I had to the opportunity to try to understand why a British man would relocate to this country. I was in awe of a Stanford grad who spent most of his time in America, then decide to move his entire family back to his homeland here in the Philippines.
I also had interesting conversations about how it was to be pregnant. I learned something from a 40 year-old man who jokes about scaring boys to not date his teenage daughter. I also experienced the feeling of gratitude for the people who gave me an opportunity.
There probably is so much more I can say about the “other things” I’ve enjoyed and learned but that’ll be too much.
An internship gives you great practical education and gives you a boost in your career, but always keep in mind that work is not everything and that people you work with can be the better reward — they’ve lot more to teach you than is written on the sprint boards.