Internship and volunteer experience can be exceptionally valuable to your career if you are lucky enough to snag those opportunities. We have compiled a list of reasons why landing an internship or volunteer opportunity can be one of the most important tasks while in search of a job.
- Potential employers see you in action. Employers love to have interns and volunteers. It allows them to “try out” a potential employee to see if they will fit into the culture of the organization and if the skills they have or can develop are what the employer is looking for. If the organization is not currently hiring, they may know someone who is. Personal references are always great ways to get a job you’re interested in.
- You develop a sense of workforce expectations. Are you new to an industry or organization, and not sure what it is all about? Use your internship or volunteer experience as a way to learn about your industry’s expectations and opportunities. Maybe you’ll love it and couldn’t see yourself working anywhere else, or maybe you will decide it’s not for you. Either way, it’s better to figure this out now then 10 years from now when you are unsatisfied with your career choice.
- Ability to network with professionals in your field. This is your time to shine. Get to know the people who are in your field; this doesn’t just include upper management. Get to know everyone and learn from them. Ask them questions and discuss opportunities. Build those relationships continuously and keep them active.
- Ability to apply classroom coursework to the position. As a student you might have wondered how all those theories you have been learning will relate to the workforce. An internship or is a great way to make those connections, see people in action, as well as offer you the opportunity to job shadow someone in the position you’d like to hold one day. Hopefully, they’d be able to show you how they applied knowledge from the classroom into their everyday work, and answer questions.
- Introduction to specific industry cultures and etiquette. Get to know the culture and etiquette of the business. Maybe you have experience in the medical field where you are very hands-on with patients, and you want to move to an administration role that is not hands-on, but more computer and files based. In making the change, you may need to change the way you work with people so you don’t offend anyone. Another example would be if you are working for an international company that does business with other countries often where U.S. etiquette is not always appropriate. It is better to learn the culture and etiquette of the business now verses later.
All in all, it is important to take the time to highly consider an internship or volunteer experience. Hopefully, you will agree its value can be of great importance to your career. Still not convinced? Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of your internship:
- Set goals
- Learn from your co-workers; they are great mentors
- Ask questions
- Use your time wisely
- Leave with accomplishments to add to your resume
- Keep a positive attitude
- Meet with your supervisor regularly to discuss progress and opportunities
- Go above and beyond
- Try new things