Preparing Your Child for College: 4 Benefits of Internships

by Heather Nelson

The benefits of internships for your high school and early college student go beyond having a padded resume or checking off a box on a college to-do list. While the classroom provides an excellent opportunity for your child to learn, internships provide real-life experiences that can’t be found in a textbook or through a lecture. For those students who are interested, here are four reasons to consider internships.

1. To Create a Clear Picture of What (or What Not) to Study

One of the big decisions teens face is what to study in college. Choosing a major can feel daunting when your child only has an idea of what an industry is like in real life. Internships are the perfect opportunity to make that decision less a shot in the dark and more focused and intentional. In doing so, your child may find that the industry he or she chose is one worth pursuing—or it might not be, therefore inspiring them to take a different direction.

As noted by Monster, students who intern in high school or college find they have a clearer picture of what they want to study and what career path they hope to take. This makes your child a more focused, successful student during his or her college career. And the additional perk for parents? The more direction your child has in school, the less wasted time and money hopping from one class or major to another. It’s a win-win!

2. To Gain Relevant Work Experience

Interning means your child gets industry knowledge and experience, even at a young age. Not all teens get the chance to work in offices or help create projects with professionals, and internships can make this happen.

Ben Wilson, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Seattle-based nonprofit CRISTA Ministries, started a high school internship program at the organization five years ago. His intent was to see young students benefit from real-world experience.

“Interning in college made me a more focused student, and I wanted young students to have the same type of opportunity,” he shared. “Internships offer a great balance of fun projects along with vital—but not always glamorous—aspects, and students that really want to get an insider’s look at what it is like to work in a specific field have that opportunity through internship programs.”

Plus, many jobs—even straight out of college—require applicants with relevant work experience. Taking the initiative to spend time as an intern means students have skills, experience, and knowledge other applicants may not have, giving them a leg up on their post-college job application.

3. To Make Valuable Connections

Internships give your child the chance to learn from the best of the best. When else can students shadow and learn from people making waves in their field? As an intern, students soak up valuable knowledge while also learning the value of hard work. This experience can help them with college and graduate school interviews, and even puts them in a good position after graduation to find a job. As can often be the case when looking for a job, it’s not what you know—it’s who you know. With internship experience under their belt, students can graduate confidently with a new network of professionals to support them during their job search.

4. To Offer a Chance to Mature

Students who do internships gain valuable interpersonal skills and they learn to converse with older, more experienced people in the workplace. This can build confidence that bubbles over into college or post-college interviews. Experience as an intern builds maturity that those not accustomed to these environments simply don’t have.

“We are starting to hear more and more from former interns who have come back and talked through how their high school internship prepared them for college, employment, and even subsequent internships,” said Wilson. “Interning is an invaluable learning tool for all students.”

Whether your child is on the fence about what to study, is eager to gain more real-world knowledge and skills in a chosen field, or simply wants to make connections with leaders they respect, internships are one of the best ways to prepare for college and beyond.