The Importance of Internships

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In today’s competitive marketplace, there is no better move a college student can make than to take on an internship (or two). Gone are the days when being a graduate from fill-in-the-blank-university is enough to get your foot in the door.

But the rise of internships as “must haves” rather than “nice to haves” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a great thing for any impending graduate, particularly if you secure an internship at a company or within an industry you want to work for.

Here are just a few of the reasons why:

1) As an intern, you begin to understand and experience how a real business works, as opposed to simply learning about how a business works.

2) In most instances, being an intern comes with the opportunity to work with individuals who are doing the role you would ultimately like to be doing. As a result, you get firsthand knowledge of what a day in the life would be like at that company.

3) If you do a great job, and an entry-level, full-time opportunity arises within the company, you will likely be considered for that role before anyone else.

4) Internships are now the first thing employers look for on a recent grad’s resume. School activities and G.P.A. are important, but a strong internship is what separates you from the pack. If an employer needs someone with professional experience, an internship checks that box.

5) “Paying your dues,” especially in the advertising and creative industry, is critical to making your way up the ladder. I can recall interviewing for my first internship at Paramount Studios for the show “Entertainment Tonight.” I quickly learned how coveted those six open internship spots were, and brought my A game to the interview. That internship opened many doors for me at Paramount and elsewhere.

So, the moral of the story is, pursuing internships is important. And of equal importance is doing a good job. Simply showing up doesn’t count. This is your time to shine— show initiative, demonstrate that you value the work you are doing, and make yourself indispensable. Ask for a reference before you leave. Entering the workforce after graduation with an internship on your resume and a professional reference is the best way to set yourself up for success.