Before someone buys a car, they usually give it a thorough inspection. They check under the hood, ask the seller questions, and take it out for a test drive. They might even ask someone who currently drives the same car model about their experience with the vehicle. These steps are very helpful in a making a decision on a car, but this logic be very helpful in other aspects of life.

Many students spend the first few semesters of their college experience struggling to find out what they want to do with their life (I sure did), but there is help out there! Internships serve as the "test drive" for careers you think you might be interested in, and are extremely helpful in making a decision on a major, and eventually a career path. I recently completed an internship at Lourdes in the Finance Department, and it provided me with two of my favorite things: job experience and an expanded network.

Experience makes you much more attractive to employers, and an internship is one of the best ways to get it. Employers do not expect incoming interns to be experts about their job fields, and this makes an internship the perfect time to ask questions and learn. The knowledge you gain will help you become that expert that employers are looking for when they are filling full-time positions. This experience will also help you personally, especially when trying to decide on a career path. “Test driving” a job through an internship is the best way to see if a particular job is for you. My internship did that for me, as it reaffirmed my decision to major in Accounting, and I can definitely see myself working in that environment in the future. Not only that, but I added several professionals who work in my field of interest to my network, which will help greatly in my quest for career success.

To give you an idea of how important networking is, consider the fact that between 70 – 80% of jobs are not published (Click here for the full article from NPR). It will be very, very difficult to land your dream job if you never hear of any openings, so you’ll want to surround yourself with people who can potentially help you get where you want to go. An internship gives you an opportunity to meet people who are “driving the same car”, and they can provide you with invaluable insight into what a career in their field looks and feels like in the real world. Not only that, but they can also serve as references when you are looking for a full-time position. You can’t go wrong by adding experienced professionals to your network, and an internship is one of the best places for a college student to do just that.

As you eventually settle down and choose a career path, make sure you “look under the hood” and take it for a “test drive” through an internship. Many employers look to bring on interns in the summer months, and the deadlines for these programs are typically in March, so don’t delay! Start looking for an internship today!

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