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I did not understand the value of an internship program while I was completing my undergraduate degree. I am not even sure I knew they existed! Thankfully, to graduate with my master’s degree, I had to complete two internships. I say thankfully because one of the two internships lead to a full-time position.

Here are 5 reasons why having a strong internship program is valuable: 

Hands-On Experience 

Classroom learning is great, but it’s even better to apply classroom learning to “real-life.” Always look for an internship that can provide an experience that will give you a real taste of what that career looks like. Don’t be afraid to ask what a typical day looks like during an interview.

Learning the “Real World” 

I’m sure you’ve heard this before. However, there is some truth to this overused statement. There are small things that you’ll pick up on that you may not experience in the classroom. Examples: How to communicate with your boss and co-workers, value to being on time, dressing professionally, and discipline with your schedule. Classroom learning is great but being able to do the work itself is an adjustment for some! Understand that the value of an internship program is something that cannot be reproduced in a classroom.

Defining Your Career  

Make it your goal to land a full-time position after your internship. There will be a ton of exposure during any internship, make sure you take advantage of this. It will help you understand what you may want long-term in your career. Don’t be afraid to try something you think you would like to help narrow your options.

Working Through the “First Job” Kinks 

Everyone makes mistakes, everyone is on a learning curve. Why not get those little kinks out during an internship? It is important to be open to feedback. Be sure to have open communication with your mentor and ask for specific feedback to help develop yourself as a person and professional.

Make Your Hiring Mandatory 

Be the one that stands out among the rest. Do your job well so that the company says, “We cannot lose this asset.” Go into your internship every day with the mentality that you will always exceed expectations to present yourself in a way that is always a caliber higher than expected.