Imagine yourself a few years from now with a college degree. You’re applying for a highly competitive job with several strong contenders. What will make you stand out if almost everyone has good grades with little to no job experience?
While finding the right college and earning a degree can drastically reduce unemployment and underemployment, a degree doesn’t automatically mean you’ll land the job you are applying for.
USNews reports that the number of people with a college degree has dramatically increased by 30 percent from the year 2000 to 2010. With such a massive increase, recruiters are no longer hard-pressed to find graduates with a good GPA. Quite simply, an internship can be the make-or-break factor in hiring decisions.
Internships give people, usually college students or new graduates, the opportunity to gain new skills and experience in their field. It bridges the gap between a college education and actual work. College students can pick new skills and knowledge that aren’t readily available in the four corners of the classroom.
But perhaps more importantly, it can give you a competitive advantage when you’re ready to join the workforce.
We could write an endless list of reasons why an internship is one of the smartest things you can do before you graduate (but we’ll save that for another day). Despite the benefits, so many college students fail to take full advantage of internship programs and cheat themselves out of a valuable experience because of a few persistent myths.
5 Myths About Internships That You Should Seriously Stop Believing
Myth 1: Interns Only Perform Menial Tasks
Fact: One of the most common myths about internships is that interns only perform menial tasks, from photocopying documents to preparing coffee for other employees. For the most part, companies develop internship programs to help young people develop new skills in that field so they can use them later on in their professional careers.
Myth 2: The Best Programs Are Those That Pay Interns
Fact: Just because a business isn’t paying you for participating in an internship program doesn’t mean they’re shortchanging you. You have to remember that college students and new graduates usually lack the knowledge and skills that full-time employees bring to the table. Beyond pay (or the lack thereof), you should consider the other benefits offered by a program, especially the knowledge and skills you acquire as well as the overall experience. Plus, as long as you prove your worth, that work will pay off and you’ll be promoted to a full-time paid position right out of school!
Myth 3: Companies Hire Interns To Save Money
Fact: Okay, this may be partially true, but it’s a symbiotic relationship. Interns provide much-needed help to businesses that sponsor internship programs, and businesses provide valuable networking, training, and experience to interns. An internship is a great experience bit to have on your resume and a great way for them to save money, so it’s pretty much a win-win situation.
[RELATED: What To Do If You Can’t Find a Job After Grad School]
Myth 4: You Should Intern At an Established Company
Fact: Students seek out internships offered by large, well-known companies, thinking that these are the only programs worth joining. The truth is that much smaller, lesser-known companies offer internships that are just as (if not more) valuable. Smaller companies may sometimes pale in comparison to their larger counterparts, but their employees can provide you with meaningful benefits like mentorship.
Myth 5: You Have To Work Full-Time As an Intern
Fact: Although there are some programs that require participants to work full-time for the duration of the program, there are several programs where you can intern on a part-time basis. If you can’t afford to intern full-time, you can take on a part-time job and intern on a part-time basis.
Stop believing these myths and start searching for the facts. You’ll be surprised at how much value an internship can add to your career.