EDITORIAL–Internships, why do we need them?

For many high school and college students alike, the idea of working for free doesn’t sound very appealing.

But, as these same young students get older or begin to apply for jobs they will begin to see that real-life work experience is required or would benefit them immensely.

On the bright side, and contrary to popular belief, not all internships are unpaid gigs. Others may start as unpaid positions, but can turn into blossoming careers.

So aside from helping you meet the qualifications for jobs or enhancing your resume, what else do internships do for you, you ask?

Internships can help students or people in general decide if the field they’re entering is a good fit for them or not.

For example, a student wants to become a journalist or a mental health clinician, but hasn’t ever investigated a story or written up a treatment plan. Through an internship the student in either scenario would be able to gain and develop the skills necessary to do either of the jobs professionally and efficiently.

An internship also provides students with the opportunity to expand their professional network, which could ultimately contribute to the success they have while applying to jobs in the future. If you do an internship at your community mental health center or your local newspaper for 3-4 months, at the end of your experience you may have discovered people willing to recommend you for future careers.

Another beneficial aspect of successfully completing an internship are the personal and professional skills that you will both gain and develop through your time in the field.

In the field of journalism, and most other professional fields, there are skills and proper ways of handling situations that you cannot acquire unless you are directly exposed to them.

While you may have begun to learn some of what a job entails via a class or another source, nothing can substitute the hands-on experience.

An example of seeing something and thinking you know how to properly do it, and actually having the background knowledge and the skills to do it, is approaching a family that recently had a relative die a traumatic death. A student who has an interest in the field of journalism — but no experience — may think the proper way to handle the story is to call the family and investigate the death just like any other story. After being exposed to the field and interacting with professionals, students will hopefully gain awareness of the delicacy and consideration they need to keep in mind while trying to get information from the sources who are most likely grieving.

Many people get hung up on the fact that an internship they applied for is an “unpaid position,” but in reality a successful internship experience is an investment in your future.