5 reasons internships are crucial to your success
By: Dale Cyphert (Associate Professor of Management)
Just in case you hadn't heard about the importance of getting at least one internship on your resume (and preferably a couple), here's a short list of the reasons your professional success depends on it:
1. Internships are crucial for developing the professional skills employers expect of business grads.
A recent study done by Iowa State* showed that entry level jobs now require professional savvy that used to be developed in the first few years of a job. These days, the first promotion typically comes after just a couple of years with a company, rather than five. In essence, new employees are expected to act like the third year employees of the 1980's. The difference is internships, where college students are now expected to learn the ropes.
2. Internships are crucial to the job-hunting process.
Companies that offer internships consider them to be their #1 recruitment tool, and nearly 80% of all companies offer internships. Yes, it is still possible to get a job by answering an ad or attending the career fair, but personal networks and internships are the path toward good jobs. An internship is the best way, by far, to start a successful career.
3. Internships are the first step in building a professional network.
Building a circle of professional contacts is something a lot of students don't realize is an important task to be accomplished during an internship. Some of the people you meet will continue to be your business associates, and these will be the people you'll call for advice, references, and resources as you get your career going.
4. Internships teach you what you really want to know about the prospective employer.
Even if you just find out that the industry or job is not for you, that knowledge will help you get on the right career path. No recruiter can ever give you first-hand knowledge of the organizational culture, co-worker personalities, or day-to-day frustrations of the business. An internship is the only ethical way to test-drive a potential employer.
5. Internships are crucial to your own competitive position.
The real bottom line is that an internship makes you competitive in the job market. More than half of all new hires have an internship on their resumes. If you expect to be competing for a better than average job, you'll need a better than average resume...and that means you need to be in the top half, which has an internship listed. Even better, be one of the smaller, more select group that has two!
*Hanneman, L. and Gardner, P. (February 2010) "Under the Economic Turmoil a Skills Gap Simmers" CERI Research Brief 1-2010