Lesson from a Recent Grad: Don’t Skip the Internships

From moving out on your own to choosing a major that could dictate your entire career, college is a major turning point. That one history class may seem like it will last forever, but four years goes by in the blink of an eye.

Now that I have been out of college and in the workforce for a year, I’ve thought a lot about what helped me stand out and land a job in a competitive market like Nashville. All signs seem to point to one thing: internships.

These days, many college programs require students to complete an internship before graduation. While some students see this as a box to check off before walking across the stage, it should be seen as a holy grail of opportunities.

I kicked off my first internship working 40-hour weeks when most college students were enjoying a break for the summer. Why did I decide to trade the pool for a cubicle? I realized that while I did learn a lot about PR through my college curriculum, nothing compares to real world experience.

Fast forward three years and three internships later, I felt fully prepared for my job search as I scoured the Internet for that coveted first post-graduate job. How can an internship help you do the same? Let’s count the ways…

Easier Transition

As an intern, you get accustomed to working in an office. You learn what’s appropriate to wear, better time management skills, office etiquette and a whole range of other skills that aren’t necessarily taught in the classroom. The transition from college life to the real world will be much easier if you are used to the early morning alarms and full days of work compared to only a few hours of classes each day.

Expand Your Networking

Networking. Networking. Networking. The job hunt is all about who you know. The employees that guided you along your intern journey could play an instrumental role in securing your first job. Before you leave the internship to head back to campus, ask your manager for a recommendation letter. This will give your internship weight in comparison to other activities since you have a true PR professional recommending you for a job.

Set Yourself Apart

Having a few internships under your belt will make a difference when you’re interviewing for your first post-graduate job. While it’s listed on your resume, make sure to highlight your intern experience in the interview and show the results from the projects you worked on while you were there. Hiring managers typically like to see numbers and analytics that prove you contributed something measureable and tangible to the team’s success.

Between balancing homework, a social life and somewhat of a sleep schedule, it can be difficult to make time for internships that aren’t required. But when it comes to applying for jobs after graduation, being able to join a team with past real world knowledge will set you a part and make you a more desirable candidate.

Interested in interning at RPR? Apply here.