Summary: The benefits of internship are presented – the writer believes that an internship experience contributes to a person’s chance of landing a future education and a professional career.
Summer is over! Yes indeed. But the question is: what did you do during the summer? Spending time with family, having fun with friends, traveling around the world, or trying to get some cash and working experience through an internship? Of course almost everyone favors the first three over the last one because they look more fun. However, are there any reasons to consider the fourth option? Working is not that bad and earns you money too. But there are other reasons that you might want to think about internship for the benefit of your future.
There are some differences and similarities between internships in Indonesia and in the US. For the most part, an internship is a way to expose students to their future working environment and to gain hands-on experience in their fields. Cash might be the last reason for a student in Indonesia to consider taking up an internship while in the US, the money earned from an internship can help pay for living expenses and other items during the school year. If the internship is worth little or nothing financially, what can you expect to receive for your effort? The answer is experience, connection, and exposure.
Those are the benefits of internship and in my opinion the most important ones. Experience adds value to people beyond their formal education. It is the way to say, “I know how to do it, I have the capability to get it done, and I have accomplished it before”. Connection is a person’s intangible precious asset. Sometimes, being good is not enough and that is when connection plays its role. Do not ever disregard the people you know – the people you work for, the people you work with, the organizations you are associated with and everything else that you touch – because at some point they may become your savior. Exposure is the other important benefit from an internship. You can see, feel, operate, and experience new things; new technologies, new concepts, new equipment, and other things that you cannot get otherwise. Exposure to working equipment, latest technologies, new research and industrial procedures is possible through an internship because of the resources owned by the research organizations or the industry.
Which company should I choose to apply for an internship? To determine which one to choose, you need to look at your objectives or what you want from the internship. Is it a future career? Money? Or the experience, connections, and exposure described earlier? And do not forget that internships are not only available from private companies but can also come from educational institutions and research organizations.
Should I just enjoy my summer time or use my time seriously? Doing something seriously does not mean that you cannot enjoy it, and if you can get something out of it to help you in your future, why not do both?
If you are not interested in pursuing a professional career after graduation, but instead decide to continue with a graduate study, you may feel that an internship will not help you. Remember, however, that in order to be accepted in a graduate or scholarship program in a university in the US, apart from a good GPA and sufficient scores on the GRE/GMAT and TOEFL exams, you also need other factors such as experience and recommendations. These factors are integral parts of developing good recommendation letters, a strong resume and a convincing letter of intention. In this case, internships provide the opportunity to demonstrate your ability, and the experience and exposure earned from internships could be your deadliest arsenal to impress professors and admission committees. What if a professor in the university that you are interested in is the inventor of the technology you were exposed to during your internship? What if the same concepts you have learned from your internship are used in research in that university?. These may help to get the attention of those who decide your admission during the application process.
If your long term goal is to pursue a professional career, an internship can give you a glance of the working environment that you might end up with. The job that you expect after finishing school might be very different from what you have imagined, and thus direct exposure is a good way to determine whether it is the right job for you. The experience acquired during an internship can be used as a bargaining tool for you to apply for future job. The connections with companies and people within organizations are invaluable assets that may decide whether or not you land your desired job.
For a company, internship is a way to introduce students to the organization and evaluate potential future employees. Many companies develop an elaborate system of recruitment for internships; the similar way of recruiting their full-time employees may be applied in order to land the best candidates. Some types of evaluation are commonly conducted to measure the interns’ performances. These can be considered as an early stage of hiring process. For you, these are some other reasons to choose the company you plan to work with in the future and be prepared to display your best performance.
In conclusion, there are many positive things that you get from internships. And even though some of the benefits might not be readily apparent, they could be a precious asset in your future.
(This article is solely based on the writer’s opinion, experience, and knowledge including internships with: PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia; PT Antam tbk. Indonesia; Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold, USA)
Photo taken by the author himself