The Importance of Internships During College
By: Evan Kilgore, Special Projects Coordinator
During college, immersive internships in your field of study are essential to successful outcomes after graduation. Classroom environments will involve you with discussion, debate, peer interaction, and shared learning experiences―but, it’s important to seek opportunities for you to apply and develop the academic concepts you’re learning in a professional setting as well.
Learning, growing, and most importantly, preparing for life and a career, is what college is all about. Here are a few reasons why college internships are so vital as you search for a degree that will aid in your career readiness.
Generally, an internship is a task-specific exchange of service for experience between a student and a business. Within internships, classroom concepts suddenly become real tools-of-the-trade as you interact and learn in a professional setting. Internship experiences are formal, formative, and foundational to your career.
This is because internships are a great way to learn “soft skills”. Soft skills have to do with the ways you interact with people on the job. These are the invaluable traits that are essential to your professional development. Since they are difficult to learn in a classroom setting, the experience of an internship can go a long way for those trying to acquire or develop them.
Developing your knowledge of workplace collaboration, business etiquette, and strong communication tactics are among the vital “soft skills”that are only learned on the job.
In this way, internships in your area of study will build your resume and teach you instrumental, career-developing qualities.
Not only do internships help develop your professionalism, but they also encourage character growth. Many employers even value personal qualities over professional knowledge when it comes to employment.
Characteristics like integrity, commitment, and self-motivation are several traits that are learned through an internship. In an article by Chris Myers, a contributing writer for Forbes, he recounts his own experience as an intern, and ways it shaped his character. Over the course of his experience, he found a mentor who helped him learn to be humble and indispensable to his employers. These lessons remained with him even as he grew and became a business owner with his own interns. When you leave school, employers will want college graduates with more than just knowledge, they’ll want those who possess the individual qualities needed to get the job done well.
Sharpening one’s competence is a major benefit of an internship, but building character in the workplace is an equally great advantage. Internships are the perfect place to learn, test your skills, and grow personally, so you can step out and apply what you know in the real world.
A Door to Opportunity
Internships are foundational in preparing students for the workforce and providing opportunities after graduation. Most employers seek career-ready college graduates who have been equipped with prior experiences and skills in a given field.
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the starting annual salary for college graduates, in a private, for-profit company, who completed a paid internship was $53,521, compared to $38,572 for those who did not complete an internship.
The analysis also found that 72.2% percent of college graduates, in a private, for-profit company, who completed a paid internship received a job offer, compared to only 36.5% for those who did not complete one.
At Grace College in Winona Lake, IN., students complete 12 “field” credits as part of their “Applied Learning” requirement. These credits are earned through internships, job-shadowing, research fellowships, student teaching programs, and many more career-developing positions ― benefiting students as they expand their professional portfolios.
Here are what several of their students have said about the internship experiences they’ve been a part of and how those work opportunities validated what they’ve learned in the classroom.
Joel Wesco (B.S. Accounting 2017), received credit and related his studies to work while serving as an Audit and Tax Intern at Crowe Horwath LLP, in Indiana.
“I’ve always heard that internships are incredible learning opportunities, but didn’t realize how true that is until mine. The number one thing I learned is that soft skills and integrity are the most important factors in business,” Wesco said.
Gabrielle Lawrence (B.S. Marketing 2017), worked and earned credit as a Marketing Intern at Hello Events in Nashville, TN.
“I grew not only in my business skills, but also as a young professional, and am so thankful for the opportunity to learn from such a talented team in the marketing and networking field,” Lawrence said.
Cody Sprague (B.S. Biology 2017, M.S. Orthopaedic Regulatory and Clinical Affairs 2017), connected his degree and passion during college while working a paid internship in Clinical Affairs at Zimmer Biomet in Warsaw, IN. His experience led to a full-time position after graduation.
“I benefited greatly completing my bachelor’s and master’s while interning, and learned so much about the medical device industry, as well as hip and knee replacements. I’m excited to continue in my new role and am thankful for my internship. It helped me get my foot in the door and land my full-time position after graduation, I believe” Sprague said.
Deliberative preparation for a rewarding career is a must. Internships are beneficial because they help develop your professional aptitude, personal character, and provide a greater door to opportunity. By investing in internships, you’ll give yourself the broadest spectrum of opportunity when seeking and applying for a job after college.
Evan Kilgore is a 2016 graduate of Grace College with a B.A. in Communication and currently works as the Special Projects Coordinator in Grace’s Office of Marketing. His primary roles include inbound marketing to prospective students, social media and analytics, as well as project management. Evan also served as the Student Body President at Grace College for the 2015/16 academic school year.