Should I get an internship? Is it worth my time? Will it really impact my ability to get a job?

At some point during their college career, students may find themselves considering whether an internship is worth the time commitment and if it can impact their career success. The answer is a resounding, yes!

Research has found that internships can impact a student’s ability to gain full-time employment upon graduation. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Class of 2019 Student Survey, of the graduating seniors who applied for a full-time job, 57 percent of those who had an internship received job offers; whereas only 43 percent of graduating seniors who did not have an internship received a job offer.

The Career Center conducted its own research by speaking with marketing major Luke Mance, communications graduate student Rebecca Bromann, and actuarial major Zach Lew. All three Redbirds participated in an internship at Country Financial during the summer of 2019. Here’s what they had to say about the value of their internship experiences.

Internships develop transferable skills

Transferable skills are essential skills employers seek when hiring candidates and internships provide excellent opportunities to develop and implement them.

Luke Ma explores his career during his internship at Country.

Marketing major Luke Mance explores his career during his internship at Country Financial.

According to Luke Mance, one of the essential skills he utilized during his internship was critical thinking. “A lot of times we (interns) would be given open-ended questions and we’d have to find solutions. Maybe that area wasn’t lacking, but we needed to use our own critical thinking to identify ways that we could improve those things.”

Mance also found communication and teamwork to be vital skills he developed in his internship. “I was working with different departments from a variety of business sectors. It was important to be able to effectively communicate to them what I was working on, and what I need help with. I would also say that overall teamwork and collaboration are skills that are very critical to have.”

Internships help to promote diversity

The workplace is constantly evolving and is more diverse today than ever before. With a number of generations represented and cultural differences, understanding how to work with individuals who are different from oneself is an important skill to have in order to be successful in a career.

Rebecca Bromann explains the value she found with working with a variety of colleagues during her internship. “At Country Financial, I worked with people who have been with the company for two years, some who have been here for over 30 years, and some with whom this has been their career their entire life. I think that having a young intern, like myself, who is progressive and loves change is something that’s good for any organization to bring in that fresh new perspective. It really opened up my eyes to what’s actually out there right now and what’s current…especially in marketing and corporate communications because there are so many new trends going on all the time.”

Mance agrees. “I think it’s important to do internships before you graduate college. They not only expose you to one specific department but a lot of other departments and roles. You end up working with a wide range of people and you’re going to get a whole bunch of different perspectives to learn from.”

Internships help explore careers

Internships are excellent opportunities for students to explore careers and examine what they are like practically from day-to-day.

Communications graduate student Rebecca Bromann’s career confidence increased as she participated in several internships.

Bromann participated in several internships while in college and gained confidence through each of her experiences. “Each one showed me something different about myself, and what I can bring to those internships. I think internships are good opportunities because you kind of get to feel out what you like and what you don’t. You get to see employees in their work setting and actually carrying out their daily tasks. It’s definitely a good insight into what careers are like.”

According to Mance, “In an internship, you’re going to end up hearing about other projects and see what others are doing. At Country Financial specifically, they let us job shadow any department or anyone we want while we’re at work. I learned about graphic design, mobile marketing, and analytics – all the different sectors that go into business models. It is definitely an opportunity to learn more about what you want to focus in on.”

Internships also help students to identify their strengths and can confirm one’s career choice. “Having gone through this internship, and continuing to work into the fall, I have a lot more confidence that I can succeed as an actuary, and that I am in the right field,” states Zach Lew. “That’s given me a lot of confidence going into my future, going into my career.”

Bromann was surprised to find how much she really had to offer the team she interned with. “I think my team really values my opinion. I wasn’t expecting that from the beginning. I was expecting to do some busy work, but I’ve actually been able to implement some of my ideas. So that has made me feel really good about my career and my experiences.”

Redbird advice about internships

As students question whether they should get an internship or if it is really worth their time, Redbirds Bromann, Mance, and Lew each agreed internships are worth the investment. In fact, they provide tips for students considering an internship.

Zach Lew encourages students to intern

Actuarial major Zach Lew encourages students to get an internship early.

“Working in an internship is a great option that I recognized earlier in my college career, particularly after my sophomore year when I found it a lot harder to get actuarial internships. So you have to have other ways to develop yourself professionally and career-wise than just classes. If you don’t have major plans for the summer, an internship is a wise use of your time,” comments Lew.

Mance agrees, “I would definitely recommend applying for the internships. You might be offered an interview after your freshman or sophomore year, and although you might not be offered the position, it’s going to put your foot in the door for the following years if it’s going to increase your chances of getting that position at a later time.”

Find an internship for yourself

Students interested in participating in an internship can identify open internship opportunities using Hire-A-Redbird, Illinois State’s online job vacancy system, or by exploring internship options at the Career Center’s internship fairs.

Are you still wondering if you should get an internship? If you take it from your fellow Redbirds Luke Mance, Rebecca Bromman and Zach Lew who have each asked the same question, you’re sure to hear their answer is “yes.”