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How internships helped determine my career

– Raymond Thompson
What am I going to do with my life? The cliché question we see in all the movies and TV shows where the character is trying to decide what path they want to go down. As cliché as this question is it is also the inevitable question that we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. As a fresh graduate from Indiana University I have recently been asking myself this question. But how exactly do I make this decision? How can I know I am making the right one? There was something that helped me that I wish people had emphasized more while I was in school and that tool was internships.
The first and foremost reason you should consider internships is that it gives you REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE. Real world experience is the most valuable currency you can have when entering the job market. If the internship gives you experience in your industry that you can then turn around and show potential employers, it will help you tremendously in finding a job.
Internships are incredibly helpful when making a decision about careers. Another reason
Internships are so helpful is that it helps you determine what qualities you like about a job. An internship will help you discover things such as what size of a company do I like? Is it big or small? Do I like a work environment that is very busy and constantly moving or do I like an environment that is a little slower paced and more casual? These are all things that an internship can help you realize.
The other side to that though is that internships will also help you learn what you dislike as well. Most people already have an idea what they do or don’t like but sometimes you don’t know for sure until you’ve actually experienced it. For example I have experience working at a very conservative company and I was compensated fairly well but what I learned was that the pay was not enough to offset my dislike of the environment. The internship helped me learn that in terms of determining viable places to work, pay was not the most important factor for me. An internship allows you to discover what is most important to you in a company. This becomes extremely helpful later on when applying to future companies because it allows you to quickly learn where you should apply and where you will fit in the best.
Now getting paid is great but understand that even if it is an unpaid internship it is still in your best interest to seize that opportunity. Employers don’t care about your part time summer job that supplied you with some extra cash. They want to see what experience you have in their industry and how you can positively advance their company. Also it is more than likely that the company would give you some kind of credit for doing it (whether it be for class or another way) so do not be discouraged if you see “unpaid” attached to an internship title.
Internships are probably the single most helpful tool helped me decide not only what career I wanted but where I wanted to be. The earlier you can get involved with them the better. They can help you figure out what company you should be working for while also giving you real life experience makes will make you incredibly marketable to future employers. Remember that the whole point of internships though is to get experience, so before you accept it verify that they are actually giving you experience and will advance your skills so it will be worth your time. The best time to look into them is while you’re in school and you can afford to take those unpaid experiences but don’t be discouraged if you can’t. A lot of companies may have an internship as an entry level position. Be sure to do your research, learn what companies are offering internship opportunities, and who knows maybe that internship can even turn into a full time job after it’s completed!

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