Does an Internship Answer the Career Question?

· by Alicia Leary

Alicia is the Marketing Team Lead at HTI. She started her career with HTI in 2015 as a Sales Coordinator.
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Internship. A buzzword in the world of college students. It’s a credit earner and often times a path to extra cash, but does it really have any career-related benefit?

I’m here to tell you that an internship can be a game changer in one’s long-term employment path.

At the start of my junior year of high school, I was repetitively asked two questions. They only increased the anxiety that every sixteen year old has in their very nature. “Where are you going to college?” and “What do you want to do?” As an eighteen year old entering into the seemingly independent yet simultaneously restrictive environment of college, the second question remained the same, but the pressure to have an answer intensified. Students are encouraged to either pursue a career to work towards for the rest of their life or start on a four year track for a specific degree. Choosing a life-long career path is a big decision when finding a prom date was one of the biggest worries just a year ago.

During my first year of college, many freshmen picked majors just to find some kind of identity and comfort. Very few have known since the age of ten they wanted to become a nurse, lawyer, or a business woman/man. I, like many of my classmates, walked away not knowing what I wanted to do with my life after college.

In desperate need to replenish funds for late night college food runs or four-a-day Starbucks coffees, many students feel the draw to work. Many of us applied as camp counselors, waitresses, or to local stores to work for during our summers at home. Although these options are resume-builders andare good for continual work ethic, they often don’t help answer the bigger question. We continue to walk through our college years with blinders on, thinking and hoping that our passions and job opportunities will magically align upon college graduation.

I decided to take a summer internship during my college years. This decision was extremely helpful in shaping my outlook on what I wanted in a career. Does it fully answer the pressing question? No. But has it aided me in my search and allowed me to change gears on a major? Absolutely. Working in a professional environment, seeing how an organization operates, and observing the moving parts that allow a company to maintain success has given me a more accurate perspective of the work environment and what daily “work life” is all about.

Choosing to take an internship has given me three fundamental opportunities:

  • Working in a professional environment with other people who have chosen a major, pursued it, and maintained a steady job.
  • Observing a field of work as well as the fields stabilizing the company as a whole such.
  • Building extensive work experience that a recruiter can understand and evaluate when they review my resume.

This is not to suggest that taking a summer job as a camp counselor or at a restaurant is invaluable, but introducing an internship into the mix of a college student’s experience, certainly gives them a unique perspective into what professional careers at an organization look like and could aid in answering the question that every sixteen year in high school is being asked, “What do you plan on doing for the rest of your life?”