As a graduate student finally being able to obtain an internship after not having to do this for almost 3 years, I found myself reflecting on this new experience. Currently obtaining a graduate degree in school counseling, it has been a hassle trying to grab an internship placement, especially with COVID restrictions and post COVID protocols in place that are much stricter. But today, I am happily writing to you from a space of gratitude after my first day shadowing a school counselor! I thought to myself, "this month's topic should be about internships--what they are, the benefits, and important things to remember".
So, what are internships anyway? Let's bring it back to basics. According to themuse.com, "An internship is a short-term work experience offered by companies and other organizations for people... It is as much of a learning experience as it is work. Ideally, interns spend their time working on relevant projects, learning about the field, making industry connections, and developing both hard and soft skills." Based on this definition, it is already clear why internships are beneficial for us, but I’d like to share some benefits from my personal experience, as to why internships are super helpful and elaborate more on some of the ideas mentioned on themuse.com.
You get to spend time working in the field getting hands-on experience. Internships, at the college level, normally come with a corequisite class where you are learning all the theory, or ideas, related to the field of interest. Typically, in these classes, the hands-on experience is a minimum, depending on where you are attending school, and for those of us who are kinesthetic learners, it can be hard to fully grasp the content, only learning lectured information and secondhand stories from professors/teachers. Internships offer you a way to see information learned in “real life”. They allow you to make connections between what you learn in class and in textbooks with what can be seen and experienced. This creates a richer learning experience that will eventually help guide you on your journey towards finding what makes you happy!
You get to build connections with people. Building connections with people in general is such a sweet part of living life but imagine being able to do so with like-minded souls who are interested in the same things as you!? Amazing. This is another wonderful thing about internship opportunities, especially after COVID. A lot of us may have had to put a pause on internships or have had to complete them virtually, which is still great, but it is also nice to get that face-to-face connection and feel the energy of working together with someone or a team that shares the same interests and passions as you. In this, you are building your network of people who can assist you down the line, building your resume, and making a name for yourself that for when it comes time to look for job opportunities. Places where you have interned can serve as potential careers when the time arrives.
You learn more about yourself through your experiences. Internships are a fantastic way to learn about yourself. Being in the field can really show you more aspects of yourself than you may know you have. Let’s say you are interning with a fashion show for New York Fashion Week. You may find that you love the hustle and bustle more than you thought or on the other hand, you may find that it isn’t something that you thrive in. Either experience, you come out learning more about yourself and the best way you can work. Another example is interning at a school as a student teacher and this I can share from my own experience and experiences of others close to me. In my experience when it comes to teaching, a lot of prospective students go in with a huge heart and a passion for wanting to teach the future generation and they learn that being in the classroom, teaching instructionally, isn’t the capacity in which they’d like to work with kids. In this case, someone may switch careers to work with children in a separate way or move into an entirely new one if they felt working with kids wasn’t their forte. It is also important to note that these experiences transcend the fashion and school industries/communities. Any internship experience will teach you more about yourself and show you more about the version of yourself that you are in that point of time and space.
Now, I don’t know if you’re already asking yourself this question, but let’s ponder, shall we?
“Is there such a thing as a bad internship?”
I do feel that yes, of course, there are some aspects of an internship that can create cause for it to be a negative experience. There are no promises that you’ll have the nicest internship supervisor, the coolest interns working with you, the best hours, or whatever else that would be cause for an experience to be not-so-great. What is important to remember is to show gratitude, not only for the experience itself, but also to yourself for showing up and being willing to get extra exposure to the field. It’s always nice to go in understanding that this is all helping you expand your mind and gain knowledge of both the content and skills of your field, but also yourself, as we’ve discussed earlier.
Lastly, before I let you go, I’ll leave you with a list of other times that looking for an internship may be beneficial for you because you don’t always need to be a student in order to grab one! According to Indeed, other times to consider an internship are
- If you want to change careers
- If you are unemployed
- If you desire to work for a specific company.
Sometimes adults want internships too and having them can create connection, familiarity, preparation, and hopefully employment for those involved!