The Importance of Internships in Undergraduate Education

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The Importance of Internships in Undergraduate Education
Since the economic downturn in 2008, the competitiveness in the global marketplace has only increased, stressing the importance of internships for young adults. Numerous studies are showing that nearly every student who completes an internship is able to find a job within six months of graduation, while those who didn’t participate in internships are struggling for employment. Of course, while internships provide economic and professional benefits, are there educational and psychological benefits as well?
The importance of internships include:
  • Professional growth. With the exception of extreme circumstance, students haven’t truly experienced the working world because they’ve been so focused on school. Sure, some students might have worked a summer job or part time position, but these opportunities typically differ from a more “professional” experience. With an internship, students have the opportunity to see their education and how it synergizes with responsibilities in the workplace. There’s a difference between solving problems in an academic setting and working in a professional environment.
  • Social development. Students’ social habits are limited because of the interactions they’ve had in the classroom, at home, and various places. Internships force students to interact with clients, difficult people, difficult circumstances, stress, and other unfavorable elements. These opportunities develop the ability to not only handle stress, but also perform even in the most difficult circumstances.
  • Goal evaluation. For many students, an internship will be a preview of what they could potentially be doing in their chosen career path. Thus, an internship provides an opportunity to evaluate whether or not their goal remains the same since they began college. An internship could inspire one student to work even harder in school and on the job to land a great career opportunity. On the other hand, an internship could also encourage a student to change career paths in graduate school or even modify his or her undergraduate plan.
  • Money management. While not all internships pay, many do, which gives students the opportunity to work, earn, save, and spend money. This presents opportunities for money management lessons to be learned from real life application. Since money management habits are often formed early in life, the psychological influences of a paid internship could be life-long.
  • Self-understanding. Students will be able to analyze and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses on the internship. This opportunity to experience these areas of development in the professional world are low-risk because of the internship setting, yet provide incredible professional growth.
Up until the internship experience, students are so focused on tests, papers, and reading that they can lose sight of life beyond the educational experience. Internships help smooth the transition between education and full-time work. To learn more about the benefits of internships to undergraduate education, be sure to visit the Eric Education Resources Information Center for more information. Going Global also elaborates on the importance of the internship experience.
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