College graduates and other job hunters are all too familiar with that old catch-22: an “entry-level” job that requires a bunch of experience. When you start applying for your dream job, you might have a terrific cover letter and the best grade point average in your class, but you may well be passed over by others who have more experience than you do. What do you do in a situation like that? Most importantly: at what point is it too late to continue amassing experience?
For college students, it has never been more important to gather experience in your field of study before you graduate. This will most commonly take the form of internships, which often can be performed over the course of a summer vacation or two. The idea of giving up an entire summer might not seem like a totally pleasant one, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Make Yourself More Attractive to Employers…
According to Melissa Benca of Marymount Manhattan College, internships have become hugely important in today’s economy. Graduating students who have started the job hunting process – and who have either paid or unpaid internships under their belt – are much more likely to be chosen over graduates who do not.
…But It’s Not Just About Them
Your primary motivation to begin seeking an internship and other work experience before college is over might be to turn yourself into a resource for your future employer. The truth, though, is that you stand to gain just as much as they do. It’s not just about getting your foot in the door.
You’ve heard the phrase “It’s about who you know.” Getting work experience is a great way to get to know people. In other words: you’ll be taking your first step toward building a network, which most professionals will tell you is of utmost importance in a wide variety of industries.
That’s not all. Doing an internship is also a great way to give your future career a tryout before you fully commit. Plenty of freshly graduated college students have had that “I’ve made a huge mistake” moment after they understand their career fully. Avoid that happening to you by getting a relevant internship: you’ll either reinforce your commitment or learn that you need to shift your focus.
Online Colleges: The Best of Both Worlds
For those students out there who are wondering how best to juggle a full-time college education with a job related to their field, there’s an excellent alternative you might consider. While students at traditional colleges often have to make do with an on-campus job in, say, food service, students attending an accredited online college might have a little more flexibility.
Consider: you’d be attending classes from home, often on your own schedule. While you’re completing your coursework throughout the year, you’ll be better able to pursue a job or internship that interests you. Many traditional students have to wait until summer vacation to begin seeking work experience, but the best online schools will allow you to multitask as never before.
Whatever type of college you’re attending, just remember not to underestimate the importance of internships and work experience. You won’t want to be thinking back on a wasted summer when your dream employer turns you down.
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