I remember sitting in one of my public relations classes as a college sophomore and hearing my professor say, “Part of this course will require you to complete an internship.” I wanted to run for the door. I had just declared my major.
Nervous, I began searching for local internships and came across a nonprofit organization that piqued my interest. I gave them a ring, and soon enough I was working in their office twice a week. I learned way more in my time there than I did just sitting in a classroom. My coursework helped me “understand” the public relations field, but it was the real-world experience that gave me the skills I needed to pursue a career in the industry.
If you feel you don’t need an internship, think again. Here are 5 reasons why an internship is the best career experience you’ll get before putting on that cap and gown:
1. You think you know, but you have no idea.
A classroom can only teach you so much. PR, content marketing, and social media professionals can attest to this claim. Getting a glimpse of your future career can help you gain a much clearer understanding of what the day-to-day is really like.
2. You need to build your network.
Interning is a great way to build your professional network. If you aren’t ready to take on a full-time position, maintaining relationships with the people you meet at your internship can prove fruitful in the future. LinkedIn is a great tool for keeping in touch as well as Twitter.
3. It looks great on your resume.
If you want to give yourself the competitive edge over fellow job applicants, internship experience is key. Listing relevant coursework is great, but highlighting specific skills you acquired while working alongside industry professionals puts you a step above the rest. Even skills such as using new programs like Cision or taking notes during company meetings are valuable in an entry-level position.
4. You might realize it’s not for you.
Some students get affirmation that what they are studying will, indeed, lead them to a career they are passionate about. Others get the relief of discovering they would have made a horrible mistake down the road. Better to make that decision before you walk in graduation so you don’t look like a “jumper” on your professional resume.
5. You might stumble across something new.
An internship is all about what you make of it. If you are eager to learn, there’s a chance you’ll discover something new. Like learning about SEO during your internship at a PR and digital marketing agency!