….And it was the best thing I could have done.
For many recent graduates, the thought of being unemployed after graduation can evoke feelings of hopelessness and intense anxiety. After graduating college in 2009, I was one of those people who graduated without a job and needed to move home—I didn’t yet know what I wanted to do and I was petrified. I felt, for lack of a better word, like a loser, and it was hard to not compare myself to friends who had great jobs and were able to move out on their own.
At the time, it was also difficult for me to tell others that I was doing an internship after graduation and was technically unemployed. However, after having five years of experience to reflect on the year after graduation, graduating without a job was not the end of the world, moving home was a blessing, and my internship was the best thing I could have done in my situation. Many recent graduates struggle with the question, should I take an internship after graduation? Here are some reasons why you should:
1. It gives you time and experience.
After exploring and doing the research necessary to figure out what industry/area you want to target, an internship gives you the hands-on experience you will need to supplement your decision. Since you are gaining meaningful experience to put on your resume, the duration of the internship represents a period where you can further reflect, apply to jobs, and network as part of the job search process. Additionally, moving home after graduation gives you time to reflect on what you really want to do without the stresses of a deadline or a money crunch.
2. It builds your network.
If you work for a large company, you could begin making connections with many professionals in the industry that you are interested in during your internship. Most likely, these professionals have connections at other companies within the industry that they can connect you with, which increases your chances of landing that full-time job. If no job leads are uncovered from these connections in the near future, at the least you will gain great advice and insight from professionals who have broken into the industry.
3. It strengthens your resume.
Sometimes, as was the case with me, you do internships during your college career thinking you will pursue one career path, when you realize later on that career was not for you. If you don’t have any direct experience in the industry you are targeting, you may need to pursue an internship to get that relevant experience that is required of the entry-level jobs in your industry. An internship after graduation is a great option should the job search not turn up anything.
4. It has potential to lead to a full-time hire.
Many hiring managers feel more comfortable hiring employees that they’ve seen the work of or come recommended by fellow colleagues than just hiring through the interview process (this is the reason why networking is so important, but that’s another conversation!). According to a 2014 NACE report, the conversion rate for internships into full-time positions was 51.2%. As an intern, you have the opportunity to showcase your abilities, while being privy to any upcoming open positions in the company. Internships have become the “new interview” during the job search process. Having someone vouch for you at the company will be useful in getting an interview, and having knowledge of the company from the inside will help you shine during the interview.
Ironically, it was the friends who had full-time jobs after graduation and had moved out early on that were eventually the most jealous of me. Moving home after graduation enabled me to spend more time with my family members and to build up a nest egg (once I got a full-time job) that I could tap into when I moved out. Whatever your reason for getting an internship after graduation, or moving home, be sure to not be so hard on yourself. In actuality, graduating without a job after graduation is not the end of world, and you have many options, such as getting an internship, that can help you get to that goal.