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Older engineer explains how to make a CAD drawing to a younger engineer during an internship.

Reasons to take an internship

Posted On02/21/2019

ContributorNelson Jobs

The Top Advantage of an Internship? They’re for Everyone

by Catherine Tansey

Common knowledge would have you believe that internships are only for college students and post-grad job seekers, but that’s simply not true. Internships can be advantageous for people of all ages and at all career stages. They provide an excellent opportunity to learn about potential careers, gain hands-on experience, grow professional networks, learn new skills, and more. At Nelson, it’s our job to help people find work they love, and we see firsthand the value and impact of internships in doing just that. Still unsure? We’ve compiled the top advantages of internships below.

Top Benefits of Internships for College Students:

Learn about Yourself and Future Career

There is a lot of pressure on young people to pick the “right” career these days. Sure, there’s always been pressure from parents on previous generations, but today’s college students have the unique burden of facing staggering levels of student debt. Picking a career has become about finding fulfilling and challenging work that also allows you to afford your expenses post-grad—something that’s far more feasible if you understand the day-to-day of your chosen industry. Internships help you see what a job is really like so you can say with confidence, “This is what I want to do.”

Gain Hands-On Experience

There’s no doubt that the resume enhancement from internships opens doors for college students, but beyond helping your resume stand out, internships offer the opportunity to gain practical experience in a professional setting. Take a graphic design major, for example. They’ve likely completed plenty of advanced design courses and compiled an impressive portfolio. But they’ve not yet experienced the realities of working in an agency setting, the challenges of collaborating with a multi-generational workforce, or the complications of working with limited resources. An internship can help you gain experience with the career intangibles that are hard to learn in school.

Top Benefits of Internships for Early-Career Workers:

Grow Your Budding Network

In addition to the “hard” skills and interpersonal insights you can gain while completing an internship, they’re also a prime opportunity to grow your budding professional network. It’s not uncommon to find a mentor or to secure future referrals or sources for employment. Successful individuals love meeting smart, driven young people with whom they can share their expertise and advice. Make a great impression by being punctual, present, and eager to learn, and the odds will be in your favor.

Earn Valuable Professional Feedback

Effective feedback helps you understand what you’ve done well and what you could do better. Insight like this can be transformative for all, but especially impactful for early-career individuals. How am I doing? What could I do better? What do you see as my strengths? Weaknesses? These are powerful questions and learning opportunities which can help you shape your work ethic, communication style, and approach to and understanding of the skills needed to do your job. As internships are meant be to learning experiences, they’re the perfect environment to elicit and implement professional feedback.

Top Benefits of an Internship for Mid-Career Workers:

Get an “In”

Internships offer a unique opportunity to get your foot in the door that is hugely beneficial for anyone—regardless of where you’re at in your career. Many people chose a professional path in college only to find out it’s not a good fit. It can be intimidating (and humbling) to realize you don’t have as much career mobility as you might like. An internship is an excellent way to bridge this gap, and they’re growing in popularity: tech magnates Apple and Intuit have recently deployed specific mid-career internships aimed at bringing talented individuals back into the workforce.

Learn a New Skill

Without returning to college or enrolling in a costly training program, learning a new skill as an adult can be challenging. We become very accustomed to our professional roles, and freeing up time and resources to master a new one can feel downright impossible. Mid-career internships are an opportunity to learn a new skill set and network at the same time. It’s also helpful to remember that an internship as an adult is different than as a college student; unlike a total newbie, you bring years of expertise, well-honed skills, and probably even some valuable contacts with you. Your superiors and colleagues will recognize this and reward you with learning opportunities that help you build on previous professional successes.

Though there are various contexts in which to think about internships and their advantages, they can be boiled down to this: the benefit of an internship is the chance to learn—about yourself, about an industry or career, and about fellow professionals with whom you can connect. The question is: will you take it?