How Having an Internship Helped Me in College

As I am finishing up my college career here at Clemson University, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my experiences over the past four years. When I came to Clemson as a Communication major, I never imagined myself having the opportunity to regularly work with children, being able to do a webcast for an experiential service learning website, and even creating promotional materials for real-life events and businesses. With just my courses at Clemson, I would not have had most of these opportunities. However, by obtaining an internship at the Pearce Center for Professional Communication, I’ve been able to gain many valuable experiences that I would not have been able to have otherwise. I am currently finishing up my fourth semester at the Pearce Center and have gained skills I will use when I graduate, and made so many memories that have become a key part of my time at Clemson.
These days, it seems like having an internship is a vital part of a college career. I can confidently say almost all of my friends and peers at Clemson have had an internship at one point or another, whether it was paid, unpaid, or for course credit. Whether your internship is paid or unpaid, the knowledge gained is not only incredibly valuable, but serves as an investment in your future.
Like I previously stated, an internship allows you to gain real world experience and the opportunity to work in a more professional environment. In a college class, if you don’t do an assignment you’re just hurting your own personal grade in the course. But when you do not do an assignment for a business or organization you are partnering with, you are letting them down and also diminishing your own personal dependability You’re held more closely accountable for these assignments and have a larger repercussion if you do not complete them. This can teach you a sense of responsibility that you will use throughout any career you have later in life. You also able to gain industry knowledge that you can help you determine if that is definitely the field you want to be in.
Another benefit of an internship is the connections you are able to establish. Building a network is so important to do during college because when it comes to getting a post-grad job, it has become more of a “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” situation. An internship can connect you to so many new people, and more often than not, they will be already established in the field you are interested in. Having some sort of previous relationship with someone at an organization you are looking at jobs for can give you that “in” that you need to get an initial interview or simply get your foot in the door. I’ve learned it is super helpful to start building your network during college because you never know when you will need to reach out to someone for a potential favor.. You also can gain contacts that can serve as a professional reference for job applications, rather than just a family-friend.
The main benefit I noticed from having an internship in college was my overall increase in confidence. Once I saw how much I could contribute to a project, I realized my importance to the the team of interns. I was lucky enough to be in a collaborative environment where we pushed each other to be creative and come up with innovative solutions for our clients. I also gained experience which made me more confident in my future abilities. Having the internship on my resume also allowed me to build a portfolio, showcase my skills, and have an organization to back up those skills. When searching and applying for jobs, I was confident in myself because I knew I had the experience they were looking for in a candidate. The experience you can gain at an internship is unlike any you can gain in a classroom setting. Applying the knowledge learned in a classroom can give you more perspective on what working in a field is really like, and can cultivate and enhance your skills for when you do begin a career. Overall, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have had an internship while in college, and I think if it is an option for any student, then they should absolutely take advantage of that experience.
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