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How important is it really to do an internship before applying for a job? Do you need to get the hands-on experience that is talked about when discussing the importance of internships or is it really a matter of just landing the right job?

During the school year, students may feel overwhelmed with coursework, sports, or co-curricular activities that may keep them extremely busy while leaving no time to think of doing an internship or a job.

Many students may also feel that they are caught in a bind since they need to make money to pay for their expenses but they can only find unpaid internships in their field.

Getting Your Feet Wet

Internships are a proven way to gain relevant knowledge, skills, and experience while establishing important connections in the field. Internships are also a way to get your feet wet and find out if a specific field is something you could see yourself doing as a full-time job. Internships may be completed during fall or spring semester or full time over the course of the summer. Unpaid internships may be easier to get but may also pose problems if making money is necessary, especially during the summer. The problem is there are many who cannot afford to work for no pay so they are forced into doing menial jobs such as wait staff or bartending in order to work their way through college. This may preclude some from doing an internship which may really be a detriment when hoping to get a full-time job.

Financial Considerations

Financial considerations when looking for an internship can make a big difference in the decision-making process. Sometimes students will take a part-time or full-time job to supplement the time that they are spending at their internship. Whether an internship is paid or unpaid there are many things that need to be taken into consideration in order to decide if an internship is worthwhile.

It’s important to decide if an internship will ultimately be in the best interest of the student in order to help meet the requirements needed when applying for a full-time job.

How to Get Funding for an Internship

Some colleges also offer funded internships for students. Check with your college to see if they offer a funded internship program that may help to meet the requirements of your college curriculum while offering experiences that employers seek when hiring new college graduates for entry level jobs. In addition, many foundations and organizations offer financing to college students so they may try writing to a number of them to see if they provide funding for college students seeking to do internships in their field.

Doing an Internship and a Job

Students may elect to do a summer internship a couple of days per week while working a part-time job for the remainder of the time. For those who need to maximize the amount of money they make over the course of the summer, they may look into doing an internship during the academic year when they are less likely to expect to make money to help defray their college expenses. In addition to internships, volunteer opportunities can also be an excellent way to gain experience and exposure to the workforce.

Employers love to see volunteer experiences on a student’s resume. Volunteering shows commitment to causes and certain values that are intrinsic to the individuals who have participated in these types of experiences. Employers look for employees who are publicly engaged and who take an interest in community service and in doing good work.

What Employers Want

Internships and volunteer experiences make candidates more competitive in the job market. In addition to gaining exposure and experience in the field, they also provide an opportunity to see if the particular career field is the right one based on getting personal experience in the field. No matter what opportunities you engage in, it’s important to maintain professionalism and take on the individual responsibility that is required.

The Benefits of Doing an Internship

By doing a great job and completing more than what is required of you in your internship, you will be creating a great impression that can provide a great reference letter at the least and may even potentially lead to a potential job offer.

When you leave the organization at the end of the internship, you should ask for a recommendation letter that you can keep on file for future reference.

Internships are a Learning Experience

Internships are a great way to learn the ropes so even if you find yourself filing or making coffee, as long as you‘re learning about the field take advantage of the opportunity and don’t take the experience lightly. Asking questions is one key to learning in an internship and keeping yourself flexible throughout the internship can open many doors.

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