Lack of experience is one of the greatest barriers to getting a job after you have achieved your college degree. You will have to prove to employers that you can apply the skills you have learned in college to the real world while also making a positive impact on their company.
Work experience is really the only quantifiable way to demonstrate this, but unfortunately you need a job to gain work experience. Now you are stuck in the how-can-I-get-experience-if-I-have-no-experience dilemma, which is understandably frustrating since you have spent four (or more) years earning what you thought would be your ticket to a well-paying career.
So, what can you do while you are still in school to avoid this catch-22?
The answer is simple – do an internship! Or possibly several internships.
Yes, the idea of working for free may not be quite so enticing, but an internship really can help you get ahead. Here are several reasons why doing an internship (or many internships) during school is important for your future.
Let’s just start with the obvious. According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a staggering 95 percent of employers take work experience into consideration when making hiring decisions. Half of employers surveyed wanted work experience to come from internships, so if you have participated in one already, you will have a huge leg up on your competition.
Getting your foot in the door is sometimes all you need to break into a dream career. Quality internship programs will not only help you gain the necessary experience to qualify for the job, but you will have already proven yourself to your employer. This can make you a much safer hire in their eyes than someone who simply submitted a resume.
When it comes to salaries, work experience is a factor in determining just how much you will make. Someone with no experience at all will always make less than entry-level candidates with internship experience. All of that time working for free is now really starting to pay off!
Most colleges provide credit for eligible internships. Check with your faculty adviser or career development office to see if there are internship programs in your field of study already in place or if they have suggestions for companies to contact that might fit your career goals.
You may have had a career picked out since you were child, but reality is often much different than you thought it would be. Say you always wanted to go into publishing but discovered during your internship that you absolutely hated the everyday minutiae of the job! Then, you participate in a journalism internship and fall in love with that career field. Wouldn’t it be nice to figure all of this out before you get your degree?
Internships also allow you to test career paths outside of your major. Your current major is in education, but you always wanted to see what marketing was like. You may discover that marketing is where you want to be!
If you really have no idea what you want your career to be, then participating in multiple internships can help narrow down your options. Have multiple interests? Try combining them in a creative way to create a field of study that you are truly passionate about!
Success in the classroom is one thing, but applying what you have learned to the real world is something else entirely. You may have all of the knowledge in the world at your fingertips, but if you have never actually gained experience in your chosen career, an internship will help you face your fears and provide you the needed confidence to succeed.
Everyone you meet in your internship experience is a potential contact for networking. They can give you valuable advice on which career path might fit you best and even provide referrals or references to other prospective employers.
The bottom line is that internships are crucial for helping you obtain a dream job or at least starting you on the right path toward that goal. At Upper Iowa University, we have a fantastic career development department that is producing internship success stories every day, so contact us at your earliest convenience!
Want to learn more about our internship programs? Call 563-425-5229 today!