What Are the Essential Benefits of Internships?

Internships give students experience in an industry and more

A custom illustration shows why internships are important, including images of two people working in a lab, a student working with test tubes, and a college graduation cap and degree. The image says "internships offer students a hands-on opportunity to work in their desired field. An internship can be an excellent way to try out a certain career. In some colleges, internships count toward course credit."

The Balance

An internship is essential for students looking to gain experience working in a specific industry. Woking as an intern is an important step to building a solid career. You can find internships through job listings on different websites, and some companies may even come to campus looking for interns.

If you're wondering whether an internship is right for you, consider these essential benefits first.

Key Takeaways

  • Internships give you experience working in an industry.
  • An internship is a great way to see if you like a certain company, job, or industry before applying to full-time roles after graduation.
  • You may be able to earn college credit for working an internship.
  • Many internships are paid, so you can also earn money to help get you started after you graduate college.

Internships Only Last a Short While

An intern works at a company for a fixed period of time, usually three to six months. Some students will have a part-time internship working at the office for just a few days or hours per week. Others will have full-time internships, meaning they work the same hours as the company's full-time employees. Internships can take place at any time of the year—including over the summer—and during the regular quarter, trimester, or semester.

This is a benefit because if you do not enjoy the job or company, you can rest assured that you won't be working there forever. Internships are temporary, which allows you time to explore other options in the future.

Internships Offer Hands-On Experience

Internships offer students a hands-on opportunity to work in their desired field. You can learn how your course of study applies to the real world and build a valuable experience that makes you a stronger candidate for jobs after graduation. 

An internship can be an excellent way to "try out" a certain career. For instance, you may think you want a fast-paced job in advertising, but after an internship, you may find it's not for you. That's valuable insight and will help you choose your career path. 


In some colleges, internships also count toward college credit. This depends on your individual school's requirements, but typically a semester-long internship can count as one full class (usually three or four credits).

Internships Don't Require Experience

Internships are usually for high school, college, or graduate students. Since these students don't often have experience working in a field just yet, internship programs usually require little to no experience, unlike full-time jobs.

Although internships tend to go to juniors or seniors who have more years of college classes on their resumes, freshmen and sophomores can also apply. Having several internships while in college can be very impressive to potential employers. You can also apply for internships after you graduate (for no credit or for pay). And if you are looking to change fields, such as leaving teaching to become an editor at a magazine, you can apply for internships in order to gain experience and see if it's right for you.

Internships Teach You Valuable Skills

The daily tasks of an intern can vary widely, even within the same industry. It is largely dependent on the company itself. In some internships, you may focus more on administrative tasks, while in others, you may be an important part of the team, making substantial contributions to the company. By law, internships are supposed to benefit the student more than the company, unless the student is paid.

Regardless, internships can help you learn valuable skills like time management, communication, project management, writing, and more. These skills can easily translate to any career you pursue in the future.

Many Internships Pay You for Your Work

Unpaid internships are common, but there are plenty of paid internships, too. Whether or not you will get a wage depends on your industry and role. For example, a communications major may have more options for unpaid internships than a finance major who may be able to apply to several paid internships.


If you can afford it, an unpaid internship can still be an extremely beneficial experience. You can get serious work experience, build a portfolio, and establish a network of professional contacts which can help you after you graduate. 

An Internship Could Lead to a Full-Time Job

Some companies do extend full-time job offers to exceptional interns, though this will depend on the company. To better your chances of this, be proactive in your work, pay attention to detail, listen and take criticism, and volunteer for special projects. Meet as many people as you can and collect all their business cards.

Positioning yourself as a hardworking, reliable worker puts you in good standing for consideration. If the company is not hiring at the time your internship ends, do not be disappointed or think it's a reflection of your work. It's often simply a budgeting issue. You can still ask the company for a reference, which you can leverage when applying for jobs later. And equally important, you've met the first people in your professional network. Keep in touch with them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of an internship?

Internships offer hands-on experience in an industry, Students may be able to get paid or work for college credit, and there's a chance an internship could lead to a full-time job. You will also learn valuable skills during an internship that can help you be prepared for your first full-time job.

How do you get an internship?

To get an internship, you'll need a resume detailing your relevant experience and coursework, as well as skills, extracurricular activities, and more. You can find internships on job websites or through the college's career center. When you find an internship you want to apply to, submit a cover letter and a resume. Job search website Indeed recommends applying to at least 20 internships.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Portland State University. "How Long Do Internships Last?"

  2. The Ohio State University. "Internships."

  3. Cedar Crest College. "FAQ About Internships."

  4. Lehman College. "Internship Guidelines and FAQs."

  5. Indeed. "How Many Internships Should I Apply To?"

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