Currently, one of my biggest fears as an undergraduate student is not being able to secure a job after graduation. I am sure many students can relate to this feeling. One thing that settles my uneasiness, is that I have had previous experiences and internships that relate to my career field. I believe internships are one of the most important parts of a college career, aside from academics. Gaining real world experience while still being a student is the biggest benefit you can acquire from internships.
I have had different internships throughout my college career so far. I took an unpaid internship with the Missouri House of Representatives the spring of my freshman year simply to gain more knowledge of how Missouri legislature works. I knew I wasn’t going to make a financial profit from this experience, yet I still took the position. I wanted to learn from my representative and the work he was doing. I caught the “political bug” from this opportunity and later found myself working near the nation’s capital.
During the summer of 2016, I was one of two communications interns for the Animal Agriculture Alliance in Arlington, Virginia. I was hesitant to move halfway across the country to live and work for a summer, but I took the plunge and absolutely loved it. Interning for the Animal Agriculture Alliance allowed me to travel to animal rights conferences and gain knowledge about advocating for agriculture firsthand.
According to a careerbuilder.com article posted on CNN, employers are constantly seeking potential employees that have knowledge and experience in the field. The story also notes that students who have paid or unpaid internships have a better chance of getting hired than ones that have little to no experience.
Most campus career offices, such as the career center at American University in Washington, D .C., agree that a student can build a career from having an internship. I believe this too, because I have found a love for politics I didn’t know I had until I took the unpaid internship at the Missouri House of Representatives.
I highly encourage any and all students to gain experience outside of their academics. Yes, you can learn a lot of information in the classroom, but I believe that hands-on learning in a real-world setting will only enrich what you have learned through PowerPoints and textbooks. For example, I learned the basics of how to use Adobe Creative Suite in a journalism class, and I was able to apply what I learned during my internship this summer when I had to create social media content.
Not only do you learn what you love while having an internship, you can also discover what you don’t like and what you don’t want in a career. I found that I do not like sitting behind a computer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. It is good to determine what fits you best before you enter the work force and take a job that does not suit your personality or career choice.
As an undergrad, it is crucial to obtain hands-on experience that you can then take to your future employers. These experiences will allow you to gain new skills that are relevant to your career field that you may not learn anywhere else.