Are Internships Worth It? 7 Reasons the Answer Is Yes
Are internships worth it, truly? It’s a fair question when you consider the mountains of student loan debt and the fact that most internships are unpaid positions that seemingly take advantage of your hard work. Before you go off dismissing them, however, you need to consider the ways that they can improve your life. We’ll get to that in a moment, but it is fair to point out the valid reasons you’re hesitant about taking one.
4 Disadvantages of Internships
Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, and internships are no exception. We’ve already touched on those disadvantages in the introduction, but they are big enough factors to single out here. (Don’t worry, if you’re a fan of the internship, we have plenty of reasons to ignore the four disadvantages you’re about to read. But we do feel obligated to point these out.)
Internships Are Often Unpaid
When you go to an internship, you likely will not be getting a paycheck. Now, that has changed over the years for some companies. By and large, though, it is still the norm that you’re trading experience and maybe a place to stay and a little free food for your time and energy with nothing to directly affect your bank account.
As with everything, you should do a cost-benefits analysis to see if it’s worth that sacrifice. In other words, what do you hope to gain by accepting the internship? Will it be worth what you’re giving up in the long run?
They Can Make You Feel Like a Grunt
Internships are built around low-level jobs. You might be able to brush up against responsibilities, but you’ll largely be doing grunt work. That can start making you feel like a grunt if you’re not careful.
To overcome this feeling, it’s important to keep your eyes on the big picture. Realize that everyone in a top position started at the bottom somewhere. They had to work to get to where they are, and you will have to do the same. The good news: it’s possible, and your internship is the first step to achieving that.
They Do Not Establish the Best Living Situations
You have student loans. You have inflated costs due to the fact most internships are in bigger cities where everything costs more (i.e., rent, groceries, gas, etc.). As a result, working for no money in one of these high cost-of-living centers is not going to do any favors for your immediate financial situation.
That’s normal, though. We all have to go through bumpy times financially. Look for the lessons you can learn from these times. Some would include how to be resourceful, how to do things for money on the side to help make ends meet, and how to connect with others in your situation to pool resources.
They Have Some Unforeseen Costs
Internships will inevitably cost you the ability to stay where you are and make money. They’ll cost you time with family and friends. They’ll lead to some unexpected expenses that come from not knowing your area or feeling comfortable with where to go to get the best deals.
Through it all, breathe deeply. Use the web to your advantage. Research before you spend money or decide where to live.
Now that you know the disadvantages of an internship, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin. There are more reasons to go with an internship — even an unpaid one — than not. Here are some of the most obvious.
1. Internships Can Connect You to the Right People
You are not going to nab an internship without meeting the right people professionally. This is perhaps the greatest advantage to accepting any such position. An internship will connect you to managers, CEOs, and administrative assistants (underrated but not to be overlooked contributors to any organization).
By doing good work and forming personal bonds with these people, you have a professional work family who will be more eager for you to join them once you’ve graduated. And the great thing about these connections is that they can spread to other organizations and give you “ins” in places you never thought about. That’s because not everyone will stay and work at the same place for the rest of their lives. Their careers and movements will be fluid, and that can only help you expand your possible work opportunities.
2. They Teach You More About Your Chosen Profession
Internships will show you the good, the bad, and the ugly about the profession you have chosen to enter in to. Don’t expect everything to run smoothly. It won’t. Do expect ways to deal with the challenges that might arise as you progress through your career.
There is no better way to learn these things than from the decision-makers within a company. It is important to watch and listen to what’s going on around you as you deal with the day-to-day tasks placed in front of you. See how it all connects, and that will give you ideas for how you can contribute for a better impact.
3. They Give You Life Experience
Working in an internship gets you away from the comforts of your dorm room or off-campus apartment. It removes you from the familiar and places you into a location where you have to navigate new geography, new people, and new experiences.
While many of these challenges can be difficult to manage, they can also give you the character and resourcefulness that you would never get anywhere else. You can’t help but grow beyond the person you are, and that will be incredibly valuable moving forward.
4. They Look Fantastic on a Resume
Your internship might not feel like much without a paycheck to go with it, but the more prestigious of an internship it is, the more it will come back to you on future marketability and paychecks.
Small businesses and growth-oriented companies value individuals with internship experience on their resume. They can count on you to work hard, meet the challenges placed before you, and contribute without selflessness to their organization. Keep that in mind as you work through your stint.
5. They Really Do Prepare You for That First Job
Keep in mind that, in many cases, the only difference between your first job and your internship is that one of them will pay you (a relatively small amount). Internships give you a nice feel for ground-floor employment, and, like it or not, that’s where you’ll start as a first-time employee.
Learning to navigate an internship will ensure that you have the stamina and outlook to get through those early days in your first professional position. It’ll also give you an idea of where you want to go from there.
6. They Shed Light on Future Opportunities
Working through an internship gives you a chance to see customer pain points, current technology or workflow roadblocks, and future innovations. You might even have the idea to implement some of those future innovations yourself, whether in the industry or a company of your own.
Always view these opportunities with an eye toward innovation. Figure out how you can harness the power of it all to make people’s lives better, customers especially.
7. And Finally, Internships Build Your Skills Set
Many companies value education, and they will certainly give your resume a look if you have the right letters after your name or the right degree. That said, our economy is moving more and more towards being a skills-based one.
Getting involved in an internship will allow you to take a skills-level view of your chosen profession. It will help you to see that you need to have more beyond a degree, and it’ll give you a leg up on getting those things in place to become more marketable.
The Next Time Someone Asks, ‘Are Internships Worth It,’ You’ll Know What to Say
By now, we’re hoping that you see the answer to the question of are internships worth it, is a resounding yes. They can help you in so many more ways than an entry-level paycheck, giving you the keys to the future from mid- and long-term perspectives.
Would you take an unpaid internship position? Share your thoughts on these in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by CXOreach]