No Surprise: 4 Reasons Internships Lead To Better, Career-Geared Jobs

by Nathan Parcells
USA Network

While you’re still in school, your real, grown-up job seems so far away. But, I promise you it’s not.

While you might want to hold off on having an internship until your senior year, don’t. And don’t just take any internship that comes your way.

Get started now, and be selective. The choices you make now will affect your chances of getting a job you actually like after you graduate.

It’s not all about your major, classes or coursework, either. It’s about the real-world career experiences you expose yourself to through internships. The sooner you can step into your industry and have authentic experiences, the better.

Here are some reasons an internship is your best bet to land a job you love after college:

1. You’ll snag a job faster than most.

Here’s a scary fact: More than 50 percent of 2014 graduates are still unemployed or underemployed as of this April, according to Looksharp's 2015 State Of College Hiring report.

But, the report also found a key factor that plays into a student’s chances of landing a full-time job: internship experience.

In fact, graduates with three or more internships were twice as likely to be employed full-time than students with just one internship.

The lesson? Intern as much as you can while you’re still in school, and don’t stop at just one or two.

The more experience and different types of experience you have, the more you’ll have to say on your résumé. And that will help you stand out from the crowd flocking to job postings upon graduation.

2. You’ll learn what you love and hate before you graduate.

More than 77 percent of students surveyed said internships helped them decide what they truly wanted in their future careers.

Learning what you like and don’t like about a job is crucial before you commit, and that’s the advantage of having an internship. Internships work like tryouts to see if you might fit into an aspect of the industry you’re targeting. If you completely hate the role or part of the industry, it’s far better to find out now than later.

Experiences at your internship might redirect your career path for the better. Plus, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you want in a job so you can apply to the right positions faster.

3. You’re more likely to land a job within your major.

If you’ve heard horror stories from your friends who graduated and had to take jobs outside their majors for sources of income, you might be preparing to settle. In fact, more than half of students surveyed said they’d take jobs outside of their top-choice industries if it improved their chances of landing jobs.

But the study infers with enough internship experience, you won’t likely need to. Of the graduates who had three or more internships, more than 60 percent found jobs within their majors.

Internships give you chances to earn the relevant industry experience you need to be more marketable to employers in your field after college. So instead of relying on a degree with a vague area of study to catch the employer’s eye, feature several qualifying bullet points of experience that show how you applied your studies to real-world tasks.

4. You’ll make professional connections for life.

One of the most valuable attributes of an internship is working with strong mentors, about 60 percent of students surveyed said.

During your internship, you’ll meet several people with whom you can build long-lasting professional relationships. And if you work to maintain these relationships after your internship, you’ll always have key people to reach out to for questions, references and referrals throughout your career.

That could come in handy once you're on the hunt for a job after graduation. Someone you met at a networking event could know about a spot opening up at an old colleague’s organization for which you’d be perfect. Also, it never hurts to have friends more experienced in your industry whom you can ask for advice.

With a few internships under your belt, you will have passed the coffee-pouring phase in your career, and you’ll be ready to deal with the tough stuff. You’ll have the proven experience and skills needed to manage big responsibilities, and employers will notice right away.

Your ideal job will be easier to spot, and you’ll likely have no trouble landing it.