This is a guest post by Matt Hudgins for InternMatch’s Contributor Platform. If you’re interested in getting published on the platform, learn more here.
Yes, you read that right. The truth can hurt. But you know what else hurts? Working retail or food service with a Bachelors degree (or worse, a Masters!) The good news? There’s still time to finish college off right, even if you’re near graduation.
Unfortunately for our generation, the workforce is much more competitive than it was for our parents and grandparents. Gone are the days of goofing off during the “best years of your life” and still finding a job at the end of the commencement stage. With more and more focus on STEM majors, graduate programs, and the influx of talent from other countries, standing out in this job market has become the rule, rather than the norm, to achieving professional success post-graduation. But how do you stand out?
Some students immerse themselves in their college experience, racking up leadership roles in clubs, joining organizations, excelling on athletic teams and participating in research opportunities. For some, this formula works great. Building strong connections with your campus community is an awesome way to establish a network that can recommend you, steer you in the right path, and even land you job offers upon graduation. Other students keep busy with the types of job titles they held in high school – sales associate, camp counselor, assistant to their parents, etc. This can also be a great option for earning and saving some money, developing experience, and strengthening your skill set. But want to know the absolute most important and helpful thing you can do outside of the classroom? Get an internship.
Need some numbers to sway you? 57 percent of college graduates in 2008 had completed at least one internship, according to data released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. For the class of 2013, that number jumped to 62 percent. Of graduates in 2012, 60 percent of those who completed a paid internship landed jobs. Those who didn’t complete an internship? Only 36 percent found a job right after graduation. So which statistic do you want to be a part of?
Internships offer real-world experience in professional industries, but without the high expectations of a full-time career. In a good internship (like the ones on InternMatch!), you will be mentored by a manager, taught practical skills, and given the opportunity to work on real projects with real money and real results. There is nothing more valuable than actual experience. And that actual experience translates to the professional world so much more than the concepts and theories you discuss in a classroom.
Hiring a new employee is not just an expense for a company, it’s an investment. Employers want to be sure that their new hire is capable of working in a professional atmosphere and excelling in their role. But how can you be sure they have the skills, mindset, and experience to hit the ground running when their only experience is as social chair of their fraternity? Having internship experience demonstrates to employers that you can succeed not just in the classroom, but in the professional world. It signals a seriousness and dedication to your career and a drive to do well post-graduation.
Can you get a job after college without internship experience? Absolutely. Do you have to spend 30 hours a week for four years slaving away in an office filing expense reports? Most definitely not. The trick to preparing for the “real world” is learning to balance commitments. Look for an internship that plays to your interests and provides you with valuable experience that can translate into full-time work post-graduation. But don’t forget to have fun, stay involved on campus, and pursue your passions, both in and out of the classroom.
About the Author:
Matt is a senior Business and Communications double major at the University of Puget Sound in the Great Pacific Northwest. Passionate about media and the arts, Matt hopes to establish a career in advertising before retiring on a llama farm in the Azore islands. Follow the journey on Google+ or LinkedIn.