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Why are Internships Important? Everything You Need to Know

By Zach Skillings

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: February 27th, 2024
Why are Internships Important? Everything You Need to Know

College graduates are often expected to already have some level of professional experience when entering the workforce. That’s why internships are a crucial part of the college experience. While internships are valuable in getting your career off the ground, keep reading to learn why they’re important in other ways as well!

See also: How to write a cover letter for an internship

Reasons why you should complete an internship (or multiple) before you graduate:

Hands-on learning experience 

Learning in the classroom is one thing, but taking that knowledge and applying it in the professional world is a great way to further your education. Internships allow students to apply things you learn in the classroom in a workplace environment. Not to mention, internships are an excellent way to learn from professionals in your desired field. 

Ask a coworker or your supervisor if you can shadow them for a day, and request to sit in on department-wide meetings. Act like a sponge and soak up all the information you can during your internship!

Build your resume 

When hiring young college graduates, many employers seek candidates who have completed one or more internships. Even for entry-level positions, it’s common for employers to expect some level of professional experience. That’s why internships are so critical in launching your career and setting you up for success in the workforce. Nearly half of the graduating seniors who completed an internship received job offers from the company they interned for. Having internship experience gives you an edge over other candidates when applying for jobs. 

Prepare for workplace culture

By getting your feet wet in the professional world, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect out of your first job. Internships are a valuable way to learn about employee relations, leadership structure, business etiquette, and workplace collaboration. Every workplace is different, of course, but you’ll get a feel for how companies operate in your specific field. In gaining exposure to the workplace, you’ll develop a sense of how you should conduct yourself on the job. You’ll also gain important soft skills such as communication, problem-solving, and teamwork. 

A path to full-time employment 

An internship can be a stepping stone to full-time employment. Many employers look to their internship pool of candidates first when considering new hires. If you and your employer are a good match for each other, you may have a shot at getting hired as a full-time employee. Even if what you’re doing as an intern isn’t exactly what you want, there may be other positions within the company that are a better fit. Knowing this, it’s important to put your best foot forward as an intern and develop relationships with people throughout your company. Think of your internship as a seed that you plant. If things turn out right, it could grow into a rewarding full-time job!


Even if you don’t get hired full-time, you’ll still get the chance to network with people who could set you up with a job down the line. Sometimes, securing employment isn’t so much about what you know as it is about who you know. By getting your name out there and connecting with professionals in your field, you’re building a path to future employment. If you have the chance, get to know some of your coworkers over coffee or a meal. You never know who could help you out in the future, so try to meet as many people as you can during your internship. 

Find out what you like and don’t like

Maybe you absolutely loved your internship, and it cemented your desire to pursue that type of work full-time. That’s great! But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes an internship isn’t what you expected it to be, and you just don’t enjoy the work you’re doing. However, internships are still valuable even when the job isn’t to your liking. You may realize that a certain career isn’t right for you and decide to try something else. It’s much better to learn this while you’re still in school, rather than finding out when you’re already in the workforce. By figuring out what you like and don’t like, you’ll gain a better sense of direction for your life post-college

Personal growth 

Finally, internships are a great way to build your resume and develop your career, but they’re also useful in helping you grow as an individual. Any experience in which you meet new people and experience new things is worth your while. By the end of your internship, you’ll have learned a lot about yourself and the world around you. 

Financial considerations 

Ideally you’ll end up with a paid internship, but that doesn’t always happen. Oftentimes internships are unpaid, which can put a strain on your budget. You may even lose money if you have to cover additional expenses (such as registering your internship for credit with your school). Not everyone can afford to complete an unpaid internship, but here are a few options for students with financial need:

Look for funding

First of all, you should check with your college to see if they offer a funded internship program. Some schools provide a stipend to students while they complete their unpaid internship. If your school doesn’t do this, there are foundations and organizations that offer funding to college students completing an internship in their field. Your school’s career services center may be able to point you in the right direction. 

Find a part-time job

If you can’t secure funding, consider picking up a part-time, online, or side job of some kind while you complete your internship. You can also try negotiating with your employer. Explain your financial situation and let them know you need some form of income to support yourself. They may not have the funds to pay you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Internships are extremely valuable, so it’s worth exhausting all your options if you’re trying to finance an internship. Good luck! 

Next Steps

Next Steps

  • Our guide to landing internships is a great place to start your internship journey
  • Whether you’re in college or high school, you should make sure to take advantage of networking resources both through your school and through local community organizations when looking for internships
  • You can also take advantage of online search tools such as Handshake, WayUp and LinkedIn to look for internships
  • Each of these tools might seem overwhelming at first, but as long as you use them strategically and take advantage of personal connections, you’ll be walking into internships interviews before you know it
Next Steps

Frequently asked questions about internships

How does experience impact your future career?

Having experience is one of the most important things that employers will look for on your resume. Experience means that you have shown this is a field you’re interested in and motivated to do more in. It also means that you will be able to bring experience to a new job that others may not have. The more experience a team can have, the more prepared and efficient they can be at their job!

What do interns want from an internship?

What you want from your internship will depend on the field you’re interested in. Ideally you’ll want to learn skills that you’ll be able to carry with you into future jobs. This may mean doing hands-on work, spending your time being mentored by a superior, managing projects entirely on your own, or even conducting research.

How can I enjoy my internship to the fullest?

Having an enjoyable time as an intern can depend on a lot of things. The place you work and your attitude toward the work you’re doing, though, will be the most important. This is why it’s important to thoroughly explore the companies you are applying to and you ask questions during the interview process to get to know the job. Understand what you are walking into before you commit to interning with them for an extended period of time.

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