Just How Important is an Internship?

Next semester will mark the end of my journey toward a bachelor’s degree. When registering for classes for the spring, I saw the opportunity to get credits for doing an internship related to my major. Naturally, this peaked my interest and I began to wonder if finding an internship would help me, not only in applying to grad schools, but also in my career goals.

Unfortunately, I did not really know anyone who could give input about their own experience, since most of my friends either did not pursue a 4-year degree or did not go on to grad school. As a result, I had to do my own research and work to make the best decision for my situation. If you are in the same boat, wondering if you should spend the time and resources doing an internship in the future, here is some information that may be helpful in your decision-making process:

  1. Talk to your adviser. Penn State does a great job assigning us with advisers who not only know our situation as online learners, but also know about our major and what future employers or educational institutions are looking for.
  2. If you are considering grad school, talk to an adviser or counselor there. How important is an internship when they are considering applications? Will it boost your chances of being accepted?
  3. If you are not considering grad school, consider the boost having an internship may provide for future employers. Will the experience help you get a job? Furthermore, will it help you narrow down what type of job you want to go into with your degree? Often, our degree will allow us to pursue a variety of jobs within that field; gaining experience through internships may help you rule out what you do—and don’t—enjoy.
  4. Consider the demands an internship will have on your life and pocket book. Most internships are unpaid, require traveling to the site, and necessitate at least 10 hours per week of your time. Furthermore, in order to receive credit, students are required to complete assignments for Penn State World Campus that may take an additional 20-40 hours per week. Though this may have similar time demands that a non-internship course has, it may be less flexible as an internet class.

If you would like more information about the importance of internships, check out these articles: