If you’ve been in college, you’ve heard how important internships are. Junior and seniors are strongly encouraged to have  one done by the time they graduate.

I want to highlight some pros and cons of getting an internship.

Needle in the Haystack

Getting a good internship is not easy. It was frustrating when I was looking at them in college. I was upset because many of the offerings were lower paying than working at  a local grocery store, but had a job description that looked like it would involve a commitment of an indentured servant.

What’s worse is that the job description wasn’t about a challenging assignment that would test my newly acquired skills. It was a collection of the low level work everyone else rejected. They would’ve never put this job in the newspaper classifieds.

I understood that a high paying internship that taught me skills I would actually use after graduation wasn’t typical. I just wanted something that I could be proud to put on my resume or job application, especially when I had to fill out the job duties section.

Since I was working student, I knew that I needed to get the most bang for my buck. I hunted for a job that would get my foot in the door for my interests and still pay enough to cover utilities. I’d say it was 6 months of hardcore hunting before I found an internship that was right. The pay was good and the job description read like something I would apply for after I graduated.

Prepare Properly for the Interview

I knew right away that if I found this job, my fellow student would too. When I was notified of the interview date. I practiced my answers to interview questions, made numerous copies of my resume and researched the company. At the lobby, I only saw one other student who was dressed up and prepared with a portfolio.

Guess which two students got the internships?

If you know that an internship is the real deal, then treat it like one. Great internships aren’t rehearsals for real jobs, they are real jobs. Act professional and be ready to work as hard as your co-workers.

Do You Really Gain Experience?

There are plenty of internships that offer no valuable experience. Taking care of the paperwork and drudgery isn’t got to do anything worthwhile to your resume.

If you are stuck in an internship going nowhere then you need to find a project to latch on to and assist with. Better yet, take charge and look for ways to streamline work, including your position. Are there redundancies in what you’re doing? find a better way and show your manager how much you’re saving them.

As you whittle down your tedious work ask for more responsibilities to fill in the time. Which project needs an extra pair of hands? Who could use your technical expertise? Be proactive and be willing to show others your talents.

Creating a Professional Network

Besides putting into practice your studies, a solid internship helps you start and develop a professional network. This is a valuable resource that you can develop.

What if no one in management was to help you reach out? What can you do then? If you can’t reach up, then reach out. Meet people from other departments during lunch. Learn how their jobs interacts with your department. Not all open jobs are advertised, who you know can make a big difference. In today’s world of changing companies, your friends at the internship could help you land a job in another company when you graduate.

Thoughts on Internships at Your School

What’s been your experience with internships? Does your school offer good/great internships? Have you turned a bland internships into something special?