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March 30, 2010
Why Internships Are Important

As our world shrinks, competitors in the job market grow closer and closer. It’s no longer just enough to be more qualified than the person next to you. You have to be better than countless others around the globe. You have to differentiate the things that make you special above a loud, noisy crowd. One of the most essential qualities of any job seeker is a college education. In addition to just hitting the books, working to obtain an internship could greatly enhance your understanding of your studies as well as give you a leg up on the job market competition.

College internships are extremely valuable for those who want hands-on, real-world experience while completing their degree requirements. In addition to gaining great experience to complete your classroom learning, college internships allow students to develop their résumés and portfolios. They also have the potential to make valuable industry contacts that can be essential to landing the ideal job upon graduation. In some cases, interns can actually work their way up through the company they’re interning with should they decide to stay or receive a job offer. This situation may be ideal for some because they can get their foot in the door early and alleviate the pressures of the post-grad job search.

The task of finding an internship and obtaining a job is a process in itself. Try using your campus’ Career Services department for help. You can also go directly to the source and cut out the middleman if you have the confidence. Try contacting a business in your prospective industry and inquire about the internship opportunities they offer. Once you’re in touch with the business, they may ask you to send a résumé and write a letter of intent. Depending on your field, some might actually require you to take a test in order to demonstrate your skill level and competence. Once you’ve completed everything they’ve asked, respectfully ask when you might hear something back and if you can call to check on the status of their decision. Once a decision is reached, rest assured you will be contacted. If you are fortunate enough to get the job, take it on with enthusiasm and pride.

After you’ve secured the job, try wiring down a few goals that you hope to accomplish while interning. When setting your goals, try asking yourself questions like:

  • How will my internship help me develop career-related experiences?
  • How do I want to be enriched by my experience?

  • Beyond enhancing my résumé with career-related experiences and building contacts for a future job search, what else can I attain?

Remember that an internship is, in fact, a job. Treat your internship search as you would a job search. Be organized, be responsible, and most of all, be professional. The importance of internships to college students in terms of networking and gaining new resources cannot be understated. An internship has the potential to take you places that a simple degree cannot.




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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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