Whether you intend to enter the job market upon graduation, or plan to apply to graduate school, internships will give you the experience you need to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Employers and graduate school committees are looking for graduates that have already taken the "next step" to becoming professionals in their field.
What is an internship?
An internship integrates career related experience into an undergraduate education through participation in planned, supervised work. Across the the Arts and Sciences, these opportunities can vary in many ways. Internships
- may be paid or unpaid
- may or may not earn academic credit
- an be from 5 hours a week to 40 hours a week: part-time or fulltime
- can take place during the summer or during other semesters of the year
- can last for one semester, part of one semester, or extend over several semesters
- may be off campus or can take place on campus
- may be easy to obtain or obtained only through a competitive process which could include an audition, portfolio review, or extensive interview
- are completed before graduation
- are different from a summer job
A summer job is also a short-term work experience, but the work performed may or may not be related to your career interests. It is possible for a "summer job" for one student to be an "internship" for another. For example, a student who chooses to work at a TV station may do so for enjoyment and to earn money, while another may work to gain experience with production, script writing, or audiovisual equipment in preparation for a career in broadcasting.
Regardless of whether you have a "summer job" or an "internship," the key is to get experience for your resume. Keep in mind that one experience will often lead to another: a summer job can provide you with the skills or experiences needed to secure a future internship.