Your First Summer as a College Student - Is an Internship Necessary?
Congrats, you've just finished your freshman year. What are your plans for the summer? That trip to Cancun with your college buds sure sounds tempting. But mom wants you to do that internship. It'll look great on your resume, she says.
What should you do?
You know all the benefits of an internship by now -- your career counsellor has bored you enough times. But is a summer internship as a freshman necessary? Can it wait till your sophomore year? Read on to find out.
Pros of a Summer Internship
Yep, a summer internship will look great on your resume -- just like mom said. Even if you take on a job that has nothing to do with your major, you'll still learn valuable soft skills. Those are all those personal attributes that future employers will love -- stuff like communication, empathy and social intelligence. Plus, you could build a career network, which is a significant plus.
It's something to consider.
"Other decisions involve the location of the internship, paid or unpaid, availability of academic credit, foreign language requirements and housing help if necessary," says Internships.com.
You probably have your heart still set on Cancun, but it won't hurt you to see what summer career opportunities are out there. After all, you never know what you might find. Kerry Wang bagged an internship at Google when she was an undergraduate freshman. She saw a flyer advertising the position, spent three days in their New York City office and learned all about their business and culture operations. Result!
If you don't decide to go down the intern route, you won't be the only one. Lots of first-year students don't get summer internships. In fact, only 52.5% of undergraduate students worked internships during college, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employees Survey.
There are loads of other alternatives, of course. You could get a regular summer job -- and get paid for it. (Nope, most internships don't pay.)
Want to combine travel and training? Become an exchange student. You might not end up in Cancun, but you'll get to see the world.
You can worry about internships next year.
Cons of a Summer Internship
Face it, finding a summer internship as a freshman is tough. You have little to no experience in your chosen field, and you'll be competing with older students and graduates. Some companies won't even consider applications from first-years. It sucks.
That's not to say you can't snag a job, though.
"Be assertive," says Natalie Kalin, an engineering student who landed a summer internship as a freshman. "Walk into company offices and ask about any opportunities. Go up to professors after class and discuss the industries they perform research with. Look up connects on LinkedIn that have other connections and give them a call to introduce you. Don't hide behind emails. Turn the tides on this technical age."
Still, if you can't find an internship, don't panic. It won't make that much difference in the long run -- you still have three years before you graduate.
That trip to Cancun, then?
Go for it. You only live once.
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