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Are Internships Really That Important for my future?

YES! Internships provide so much value to students and young professionals: not only can they lead to entry-level job opportunities, they can set the stage for a successful career. On average, completing internships increases job offers by 16%, and a 2018 survey reported that 83% of students said the knowledge and skills gained from their internship were “very or extremely important” to their career development.

A Better-Prepared Employee

Beyond just getting your foot in the door, internships equip you with the skills to thrive once you do start working. An office environment--or any professional setting, for that matter--takes some getting used to. Outside of the responsibilities listed in a job description, there are little things that affect your employability like managing feedback, sending calendar invites, sitting in on a meeting, brainstorming effectively, or requesting time off appropriately. Familiarizing yourself with the nuances of office etiquette as an intern will help you for the rest of your career.

It’s also about taking the skills you learned in the classroom and understanding how they translate to a job environment. At a lot of businesses, nobody takes the time to coach entry-level employees to succeed, so they’re expected to figure it out on their own or learn from colleagues. This can be frustrating for both the company and the employee, whereas understanding appropriate communications will yield more professional success.

At Ampersand, we recognize how much this kind of professional development can impact success, so we teach it in our curriculum. With courses on corporate structure, employee communications, and sales 101, Professionals can be sure they are making lasting impressions and navigating the workplace appropriately. So when that entry-level position finally comes around, it won’t be necessary to balance professional responsibilities with processing a brand new environment or workflow. This leads to higher quality of work and bigger successes in your role.

More Money Down the Road

Several academic studies have found that workers with internship experience typically earn higher starting salaries. One 2015 survey determined the median starting salary for those who have had a paid internship with a for-profit company is $53,521 with a 72% offer rate. Comparatively, those with no internship or co-op under their belt demonstrated a 36% offer rate and $38,572 median starting salary. The benefits of a higher salary are obvious, but they might be even bigger than you think: a several thousand dollar increase in earnings in your early twenties can be worth more than a million dollars throughout your career if you invest it properly, according to New York Times Bestseller finance author Ramit Sethi.

Professional Connections

At any internship, you will be working with, and learning from, bosses and fellow employees with more experience. Getting to know these people and making a solid impression can turn into mentorships, letters of recommendation, or direct opportunities in the future. In fact, at Ampersand, three of our current participants (at the time of this writing) have received job offers from connections made in internships or informational interviews! 

Strong relationships are often formed with fellow interns, also helping to build up your network. Since you’re at a similar point in your career, it’s in everyone’s best interest to connect and help each other succeed. Plus, by relating to one another and relying on each other for input from your peers, it’s oftentimes less daunting than approaching a manager. Keeping in touch can easily extend your circle when searching for future opportunities.

Internships Start A Step In The Right Direction

Internships help you get a better idea of the work you enjoy doing. You can observe what it’s like to actually work in a certain field without committing to a full-time position or entering the workforce just yet. Even if you don’t work directly with a role you want to learn more about, asking someone at the company to explain what they do to you is much easier when you work there too. Most people are happy to help interns and love an excuse to talk about what they do, so you’re perfectly positioned to learn what different jobs are like directly from the source.

Just as valuable is learning what you don’t like: seeing the position of your dreams up close could reveal that it isn’t as magical as you thought, and it’s time to change your path or pivot to an adjacent role. An internship that turns out to be less-than-fun informs what kinds of positions, fields, or company environments to avoid in the future.

Sign Me Up!

Most jobs will require entry-level or internship experience so it’s important to start collecting that experience as soon as possible. However, it’s difficult to find one that’s both available and a good fit. After that, students are often limited to personal connections, which instills a lack of diversity in corporations. The search for an internship can feel just as stark as a job.

Ampersand breaks down that barrier. Using existing business connections, we are able to personally work with interns and pair them with companies that fit their interests. Our rotational program lets students experience three different internships, one month at a time, to work in a variety of environments and roles. You can learn more about how it works here.