The world of work has changed immensely and not just in the past 50 years, but in the past decade. With the advent of technology, expectations of knowledge are vastly different than they used to be. And while a college degree is still important, it’s no longer something that makes you stand out. Even having a master’s degree is becoming commonplace.

What employers really want to see is that you have some real-world experience, and this can be where an internship can come into play. While you want to be careful about what internship you take, they can have a lot of benefits that will help you down the line. Here we are going to highlight some of the reasons to get an internship and how to make sure it’s worth your time.

Gain Real World Experience

While school is an excellent place to learn and gain experiences, it is completely different from working in an office environment. Employers like to see that you have some experience in an office, and know how to handle yourself professionally. Having even a few months of experience at an internship with a good recommendation can go a long way to boosting their confidence in hiring you. It also gives you a chance to get used to how office environments function in a more low-pressure situation so that when you start on your first day you’re not completely overwhelmed.

It’s also a very sad reality these days that you need some related experience to get even entry-level jobs (which is what we’re working to change here at Scouted). While your parents might have had more on-the-job training, there are so many well-qualified candidates out there, you often need to show you have some experience to even get a foot in the door. Internships have become almost as expected as a college degree.

Make Connections

One of the best ways to get good jobs is still through your network and connections, and an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door to the world of work.

A lot of big, well-known companies bring on large classes of interns that actually pay or offer college credit and these can have two huge benefits:

  1. You get a big name company on your resume that people will be impressed by and
  2. They often look to hire entry-level people from this pool of interns once they graduate.

While turning an internship into a job is never a guarantee, aiming your sights for more well-known companies will help you in the long run (and they are also more likely to have the funds to pay at least a little). If you perform well at the internship, then you can get in with people who will want to help further your career, and can write you good recommendations which is major for making the next step.

Find out What You Like

It’s hard to know what you want to be when you grow up, we get it. Even if you think you know 100% of what you want to do, it’s never a bad idea to actually try it out and make sure it’s a good fit.

Internships are a fantastic, low-pressure way to test out different roles and industries to see what you like and what you don’t. It is highly likely that you will go through a few different careers in your working life, current statistics show that most people go through 5-7 careers changes so why not test things out a bit first and start to narrow it down before you’ve even graduated?

Build Confidence

Internships are also a great way to build your confidence and will give you something besides your senior thesis to talk about at your interviews. Entering a professional work environment can be an intimidating experience, once you have some knowledge of how offices work and how to communicate in a professional way, it can start to feel much more manageable. It will also help you to feel more confident sending out your resume since you will have more relevant experience to what you hopefully want to do with your future. While industries have their own little idiosyncrasies, most offices have a lot in common.

There are many reasons to get an internship, but you do want to be smart about the internship you choose. Internships can help to set the groundwork for your career, and while many people do jump around, you want to make your internship work for you. Finding one that is related to what you hope to do after school can help you build connections and gain crucial experience that will give you a definite advantage over other recent grads. If you can find one at a well-known company that also pays, it is going to be competitive so leveraging alumni connections can be a useful strategy to get your foot in the door.

Internships are the perfect way to get the experience and connections you will most likely need to get your first real job after college. Also keep in mind that some internships are available to recent grads as well as current students! So if you’re already graduated, it’s not too late. Check out the internships and roles for recent grads on Scouted!