The Value of a Summer Internship


Classes have just started up again, which means summer jobs and internships have ended for the year. I've had time to reflect on how I spent my summer and am so glad I chose to spend my summer as an intern.
Because I didn't have much experience and had only taken two classes in my major, there weren't too many paid internship options for me, so I ended up taking a position as an unpaid intern. I spent a lot of time debating whether I should do an unpaid internship or work at a local retail store. It can definitely seem like a waste of time to spend time working an unpaid position when you could be working at a local restaurant or boutique for a good income, and while it may seem that way in the short term, the skills you acquire through an internship don't compare to those at a typical summer job. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to have worked with a local chapter of the nonprofit, The First Tee, this summer to promote teaching golf and life skills to young kids in Charlotte and gaining real life experience in the communications field.

Here are my top four reasons for pursuing an internship:

See What Working in Your Prospective Industry is Like
This is a big one. Testing out that particular niche and seeing if it's something you could see yourself doing after you graduate college is something you should do early on. There are so many different routes I could go with in the communications field (and every single one sounds interesting to me!) so it was important to experience working in one of those areas to see if it's something I want to continue to pursue, or if I should shift my focus elsewhere.

Make Connections With Professionals in Your Industry
An internship is a great place to get your foot in the door in your respective industry. Grab lunch or coffee with someone in your office or a professional in your industry that is from your city and learn more about them and their story. Having a conversation with someone is not only more meaningful and interesting, but you will develop a much better relationship and connection with that person than if you had just connected with them on LinkedIn!

Experience Working in an Office Environment 
This was a actually my first job ever! I never had a job during high school because I was always traveling to play in golf tournaments during the summer and playing golf after school the rest of the year, so this was my first experience working in an office. Working in a real office is not only good for your resume, but you will also develop skills for your future job that you might not have gained otherwise. Learning to collaborate with others, meet deadlines, and learn from mistakes in a professional environment can be intimidating, but as an intern I didn't feel that there was as much pressure on me. Additionally, when it comes time for an interview elsewhere you will have specific examples of how you solved a problem or implemented a new strategy in a real business!

Spend Time Doing What You Love
I felt that I had a much more fulfilling summer devoting my time to an organization I was passionate about than if I had spent my summer folding clothes at a local boutique (not to say that can't be fulfilling as well). Each day was different and exciting and I felt productive learning more about communications and using what I learned in class in the real world to help a real business.

You don't have to intern with the biggest, most well-known company to have a good internship experience. As a rising sophomore in college I wasn't worried about landing a job after graduation yet, so getting experience and learning more about my prospective industry were the most important reasons I decided to pursue an internship.

What did you spend your summer doing?
Thanks for reading,
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