As a college technology student, you may find yourself wondering why an internship is important. Why not just work at your local grocery store, a local restaurant, or mow lawns for the summer? This is a very good question, and a question we can answer by discussing the advantages of an internship.
Specifically, we're going to focus on three advantages of you getting a technology internship.
Back in the early 2000s, I didn’t even consider getting an IT internship. Because my dad was a grocery store director, I ended up spending my summer time as a shift manager at his store (actually, I had the fancy title of “Second Assistant Manager” to be exact).
I clearly just settled for this position because it was the path of least resistance.
Don’t get me wrong, leading others while in this grocery store role did prove to be valuable, yet it wasn’t the same type of value that an IT internship would have provided. This was especially evident early on in my IT career.
So, I’ve been where you’re at right now. And, although things worked out for me in the long run, there was a better way that could have fast tracked my IT success.
Nearly any job you work at will teach you how to be responsible. So, I don’t want to give the impression that an IT internship is the only way. Because it’s not. I’m proof of that.
However, you need to realize that you can drastically improve your path toward a great full-time IT position—post-graduation—by focusing your attention on finding and landing an IT internship.
You may also be interested in How To Tell If An Internship Is A Good Fit For You.
3 Advantages Of Getting A Tech Internship
Alright, let’s dive into this list of the three advantages of getting a tech internship.
#1: Work Experience More Closely Aligned With Your Career Goals
Regardless of the job you work during the summer—or throughout your time in school—you'll have plenty of opportunities to grow. But, you don’t just want to grow, you want to grow in the right direction.
By getting an internship that is directly related to your career objectives and goals, you’ll be positioning yourself nicely to start your tech career.
Let’s say that you really want to become a software developer…
What do you think your experience will be like working a retail job over the summer versus working at an organization as a junior software developer?
Sure, your retail job will be better than not working at all, yet getting an internship as a developer aligns perfectly with your career goals in this example.
And, this internship position will give you career specific experience that will go a long way in preparing you for the start of your career.
#2: Make Valuable Connections In Your Target Career Industry
As you grow in your career, you’ll start to realize just how important industry connections are for your success.
From identifying possible mentors to gaining direct access to hiring managers, your network will largely be responsible for the upward mobility of your career.
By taking on a tech internship while still in school, you’ll be getting an early start on building your network. This isn’t a network of people you will use for your own benefit, this is a network of people you know, like, and trust.
These are people who you would also be willing to help if (and when) they need your assistance.
Your connections can’t be one-sided.
#3: Find Out If You’re Headed In The Right Direction
What happens if you accept a full-time position doing something you later realize you don’t enjoy? That wouldn’t be much fun would it?
This happens quite often where someone pivots and heads in another direction in the world of IT; however, it’s often something that happens early on in someone’s career.
One of the best things about an IT internship is test driving a certain position as well as gaining exposure to other positions within the IT world.
Using the software developer example above, you wouldn’t be limited to only understanding what it’s like being a software developer in a large organization, you’d also see how other positions operate.
Maybe you’ll realize that being a business analyst or project manager is more in your wheelhouse than being a software developer.
By figuring this out during an internship, you’ll be able to avoid wasting a year or two of your full-time career doing something you don’t truly enjoy.
What About Money And Resume Building?
You’ll notice we didn’t discuss a couple things above as advantages that you may be wondering about…
First, I didn’t mention anything about earning money. That’s not the purpose of an internship.
Even if your internship could allow you to earn more money over the summer or a semester compared to a retail or lawn mowing job, that’s not an acceptable reason to take on an internship.
Case in point, unpaid internships can be extremely valuable. But, we’re not going to go into detail on unpaid internships in this article.
Just realize that making some cash may be a nice byproduct of an internship, yet it’s not a direct advantage.
Secondly, I didn’t mention anything about an internship being a resume builder. The reason for this is because the internship itself does nothing to boost your resume. It’s your experience in the internship that will help you land a full-time job.
This may be confusing, so let me explain it this way.
If I come across a resume that shows that a candidate had an internship while in college, I do take notice of this. However, I will very quickly understand how valuable that internship was within the first few minutes of the interview.
The Bottom Line
An internship is an experience-builder, not a resume-builder.
So, what do you think? You ready to go find a tech internship to jumpstart your career?
Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of tech industry knowledge. Ryan has his BBA and MBA from the University of Iowa. Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.