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As a college student, you put in a lot of time, effort and work during the school year. There are many late nights involving lots of studying, lots of pizza, lots of energy drinks, and little sleep. Some weeks seem like a year… and some tests seem like they were probably written in ancient Greek. But… through it all…you survive because there is a light at the end of the tunnel: SUMMER!

But wait. In order to best prepare myself for the “real world,” everyone suggested I take advantage of the summertime to work and gain experience through an internship. This is the process that I and many of my peers have gone through this year. But, I’m here to tell you, your summer internship will be worth every minute!

First, if you are unsure of what you want to do, having an internship can help narrow your field of choice. Getting an internship with a company you may want to work for can give you an inside look into that company and help you decide if it is a right fit.

Second, an internship is a learning experience that will give you valuable tools for your future in school and in work. You will gain “real world” experience which will build up your professional skills that can be used in school and in a later career. While these skills can be taught in school, practice never hurts.

Third, an internship looks great on a resume.  In my last blog, I talked about the interview process and what occurs. Recruiters want to hear about you and what you have done. An interview candidate who has limited him/herself to solely school involvement may not be looked upon as favorably as someone with a well-rounded internship or job experience(s), along with school activities and a decent GPA.

Recruiters are looking for someone who can demonstrate how they grew, what they learned, and how they benefitted the company during their internship. I would even suggest journaling, blogging or keeping a schedule of what you did during your internship so you can look back at it as you prepare for an interview.

Lastly, internships are an amazing place to network. Networking can be a huge leg-up on your competition. Get to know people at your internships and make contacts. Get business cards, e-mails, phone numbers—anything to develop and maintain a relationship with your new network. They also might know someone who works for the company you are interested in and can make a call for you, if you have demonstrated your excellent work ethic. There are many benefits to networking and internships are great way to start!

Landing an internship can be a challenge, but once you have it, it will be a centerpiece on your resume and help you jump-start your career.

How have you used a summer job or internship to advance your career? What can you do during an internship to ensure a good experience?

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