After graduating high school and then college, the pressure to find a job and start a career can be intense. A good student — one who has studied hard and done well in all their classes — should have nothing to worry about, right? But many hard-working students who face the real world become increasingly nervous as graduation day approaches.

A solution to this nervousness can be found through an internship before graduation.

An internship is similar to a course that allows the student to experience what they have been studying, as well as the common practices of a business, without the expectations employers have of experienced employees. As a college student who is also completing an internship at Marshall Communications in Augusta, I have noticed several benefits of an internship versus merely studying about working in a real job.

1. Learning to communicate

Communication is key when dealing with others, especially in the workplace. As an introvert in the world of PR, communication does not come naturally for me. Through my internship, I am slowly but surely reversing the poor communication habits I formed in college. Simply letting the other person know you received their email is important to provide the sender with peace of mind that you have the information they sent. Engaging in conversation enables you to form relationships with your co-workers.

2. Working with others

In the classroom, whenever the professor says “group project,” moans and groans can be heard throughout the class. Students despise working with others, even though group work is essential in the workplace. Many students fear being the one student who puts in all the effort while the other members of the group mooch off the smarts of the leader.

At an internship, you will encounter co-workers who are enthusiastic about the work being done and want to see their clients be successful. An internship enables a student who is used to fearing group projects to learn how to effectively work in a group without one person carrying all the weight.

3. Choosing a career path

While completing an undergraduate degree, you must take many courses related to your major, and each could be a career on its own.

An internship, or multiple internships, will enable you to identify which avenue you want to take for a career of before being forced to decide upon graduation. This makes the choice less stressful and will lead to a more satisfactory career choice.

4. Applying concepts

In class, students learn about target audiences, the communications model, the four Ps of marketing, and other concepts out of a textbook. Conversation ensues, and students attempt to grasp the idea.

However, I find that without a situation to apply the concepts to, I lack the ability to remember the concept for a long period of time or understand the idea to begin with.

An internship lets the student apply their coursework to the real world, forging a deeper understanding of key concepts that are integral to their career. The student is also able to see how their efforts have paid off by looking at the final results, such as how pitching an idea to a journalist may result in an article being written in a prestigious magazine.

5. Using the tools of the trade

Concepts are great, but they aren’t useful unless you have the tools to reach your audience or gather background information. Learning how to use programs and tools such as Meltwater, Moz, Alexa, or Business Manager (among many others) enables you to reach the target audience or complete research before putting together a PR plan. Even knowing how to use Microsoft Office, Outlook or Gmail will serve you well.

Throughout my college education, the concepts have been at the forefront, leaving the essential tools to be learned in the workplace. This is another area where an internship is beneficial — a student can learn the tools of the trade that businesses use to complete projects.

I have completed one internship and am now beginning another. Through these experiences, I have been able to narrow down the career path I want to take and build skills I did not have before. I have been able to use the concepts learned in my courses to complete tasks with visible results I can be proud of.

As my own graduation day approaches, graduating and finding a job do not seem as daunting because of the experience I have gained through having completed internships in my field of study.

 

Emma Dimock is an intern at Marshall Communications in Augusta as part of the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation. A student at Thomas College, she is from Madison. 

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