Starting your first internship can be stressful. I was so nervous on the first day of my first internship! But after long summers and semesters at various companies, I learned to embrace the once-in-a-lifetime role of being an intern and make the most of every experience I was lucky to have.
Here are some of the benefits I’ve discovered while juggling multiple internships throughout college.
- It’ll help you narrow down your career choice
Internships are like a test-drive for your potential career. With each new role as an intern comes an opportunity to learn something you didn’t already know about your field. Your responsibilities and tasks will differ with each internship, and experiencing a little bit of everything will help you determine what you enjoy doing (and maybe what you don’t like doing, which is also helpful). When I started my first one, I wasn’t sure if it would be the perfect fit for what I wanted to do.
The next summer, I began another internship and learned that this one was more my speed. Noting the similarities and differences between each opportunity made me realize what was important to me in a future job. No two internships are the same, and getting a taste of what life is like at different companies will help you focus on what you are looking for in a future career.
- The more experience, the better
Employers like to see a range of experience showcased on your resume. Having a handful of internships to talk about will not only show them that you are a hard worker, but it will portray how well-rounded you are. Every company operates in its own way, and showing how you adapted to each new atmosphere is a chance to impress. Having at least some background knowledge in different software, strategies and skills that you’ve learned at each internship shows how flexible you are as a worker. This experience can qualify you for more opportunities in the future and make you feel more prepared to enter a new professional environment. For example, one company I interned for used a certain software to schedule their posts, while the next company used a different one. I was able to put both softwares on my resume, which diversifies my skills.
- You can make mistakes and learn from them
The best advice I’ve received as an intern? You’re allowed to make mistakes — in fact, it’s almost expected of you. Your bosses know that you aren’t an expert in your field yet, and that’s why you’re here to learn as much as you can. Don’t panic if your work isn’t perfect; instead, ask about how you can improve it next time. Take advantage of the proximity you have to professionals in your field, and ask to be a part of any projects that interest you. Internships are a lot less structured than salaried jobs, and you’re allowed to be hands-on in different areas of the company that you want to learn more about. Even just observing others or asking questions can open the door to new knowledge or skills that can help you in the future.
- You’ll gain confidence
It can be intimidating to start at a new workplace, especially as an intern. But remember that you were hired for a reason, and your employer sees potential in you! Building up your portfolio and playing a role in new projects is invaluable experience that makes you all the more appealing as a job candidate. At first, I felt embarrassed about being the youngest, least experienced person in the room. But I quickly learned how empowering it can be to learn how a company operates before graduating college! Overcoming the challenges that your work may present, and learning to interact in a professional manner, are skills that benefit you in any role. Plus, you can carry the skills you’ve acquired to new opportunities and feel a lot more prepared to handle any challenges that come your way.
- It can open doors for new experiences
If you hit it off with your colleagues or supervisors, stay in contact with them! They can endorse you for skills on LinkedIn, write you recommendation letters and serve as references for your next internship or job applications. At my internship this past summer, my boss worked one-on-one with me a lot, and we still keep in touch. When the company needs some extra help, she’s presented me with several freelance opportunities that look great on my resume and provide some extra cash on the side. You never know when the connections you make at your internship will come in handy to help you navigate your future career.
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Nicole Cier, senior writing arts major