Many students complete an internship during their time in college, however; few realize how important this experience can truly be.  An internship is not only a great tool for networking, it is also a way to test the waters for potential future careers and a way to gain valuable life experience that will shape whatever you do.

The idea of networking is drilled into students’ minds as soon as they pick a field.  This is especially true for more competitive fields such as business or health-related careers.  However when selecting an internship, it is important to also understand the other valuable resources you may get out of the experience.

Probably the most important component of an internship is testing out whether you really like what your chosen field is all about.  It is not uncommon for students to set a goal and then single-mindedly pursue it, no matter what.  Determination is important, but it is also necessary to explore exactly what it is you are choosing and to decide whether it really fits in with your skills and personality.  An internship is a great way to do this.  You may think that you want to be a magazine editor, but after running around the halls of Conde Nast as an intern, you may have a different opinion.  Using an internship as a test and not as a key to a prized Rolodex is the best way to get the most out of the experience.

If the internship proves to be what you expected, it can also be an excellent way to hone some skills that others might not have prior to graduation.  The way to do this is to try to learn as much as possible.  Don’t think staying silent proves your aptitude!  You don’t know everything and nobody expects you to; you are much more likely to make an impression and stand out by asking intelligent, pertinent questions.  More than anything, an internship should be a learning experience.

Having an internship experience in college is incredibly important.  Whether an internship is good or bad (and both options are very possible!), it will definitely have an impact on a student’s career and life choices.

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