Why Internships are Important and Tips for Getting One

You might be wondering why you hear so much about the importance of getting an internship, and wondering if classwork alone will prepare you for the job market. Employers are telling us that internship experience often makes the difference on the hiring decision. They want college graduates who have done well academically and have real world work experience: that combination gets noticed, both on resumes and during interviews. Why? Companies feel more confident hiring a new graduate with academic tools and work experience, preferably in their field of study/interest.

An Internship gets you:

  • Professional experience in the real world, ideally in a field that interests you.
  • Socialization at work, as part of a work group, and experience collaborating with diverse thinkers and coworkers from multiple disciplines.
  • An understanding of the competitive pressures in industry, and the importance that employees play in creating innovative approaches and efficiencies.
  • Appreciation for resilience, team work, and relationship building (often in matrix environments)
  • Experience meeting project milestones, producing reports, communication across departments, and within teams.
  • New networks, new friends, new mentors.
  • A very good chance of getting hired by the company if you nail the internship!

The key to finding an engaging and meaningful internship is through planning and prospecting!

6 Valuable Tips

  1. Go to the Paul College Career and Professional Success office for guidance. Brainstorming with a qualified professional can help you get started. Our Paul College Career and Professional Success office can help in many ways. Our career counselors might know companies that could be a fit for you and are hiring; and they can help you develop resumes, cover letters, network, and prepare for interviews. Don’t delay. This process takes time -- come by and talk to a counselor!
  2. Stay organized and start planning early! Intern searches have a lot of contacts, follow-ups and next actions in play simultaneously. You need to stay focused and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Many companies hire in late fall for summer internships. Plan accordingly!
  3. A company showed interest, but you haven't heard from them since. You spoke to a recruiter or hiring manager at a company and you felt great. You thought they were interested, and you would have accepted if they extended an offer, but they went silent. So what now? Continue to go after them. Let them know they are on the top of your list. People who hire are very busy and sometimes they too drop the ball. Further, they are speaking to multiple candidates but only have a certain number of internships. Stay visible and attempt to connect (leave a voicemail or email them a couple of times a week). If you follow up professionally, it will increase the impression that you are the kind of professional they want to employ. But keep seeking other offers if they have not solidified one with you in writing.
  4. Follow-up with recruiters you have met. During your search, if you have attended career fairs and information sessions on campus, you have probably amassed contacts that have become part of your network. Follow up and engage with them. They may have not had an available role when you last spoke, but maybe a candidate they were pursuing just dropped out, or they might know of another recruiter that could use you.
  5. Review who you have in your network and reach out. Make sure you are leveraging all you can. Your go to list could include: Handshake internship postings, professors and advisors, friends who are looking or have secured an internship for the summer (they might have taken one but have another two that they would have taken if they didn’t get the one they just accepted), other friends, family and neighbors, and former employers. 
  6. Reach out to a mentor to brainstorm. If you’re stuck, reach out to a mentor and try to kick around some ideas, then implement that advice.