You finally got that coveted bachelor's degree. Now what? If you're feeling a little lost, clueless and (ugh) jobless after college graduation, rest assured you're not alone. The job search is a grueling process, and you're probably already burned out from sending out hundreds of cover letters and resumes. But there's hope, guys! INTERNSHIPS.
Seriously, hear me out. Internships aren't just for college kids, and they can actually be kind of awesome under the right circumstances. Here's why:
You can change your mind
Unlike full-time jobs, internships have a definite timeline. You know your start and end dates well in advance, and you're not required to stick around afterwards. If you're not quite feeling it -- the work, the industry, the company culture, the whatever -- you can (politely) peace out and go look for something else after three months.
If you sign a two-year contract your senior year of college then realize within your first month in the real world that you absolutely HATE that career path, you're obligated to see it through 'til the end. It's rare to land your dream job straight out of college, yes, but you don't want to be miserable every day either.
You figure out what you really want to do
Because you have the guaranteed opportunity to change your mind after three months, internships are the perfect way to try out a career you're not 100% confident about. If you graduate and have no effing clue what you want to do with your life -- don't worry, you're not alone -- interning is a great option.
If you love your internship, awesome! Now you can look for a full-time job in the same field. And if it's not your thing, be happy you found out sooner rather than later. You know what's more important than knowing what you want to be when you grow up? Knowing what you DON'T want to be.
You have time to meet new people
Being an intern is like being the new kid in school. Some friendly people -- bless them -- will introduce themselves and show you the lay of the land. But for the most part, you're on your own. It's intimidating, especially when you're surrounded by super-accomplished adults who know exactly what they're doing.*
This is a good thing, though! As an intern, you're supposed to be meeting new people across departments. Instead of getting nervous, get excited about the fact that you're surrounded by so many awesome people who have so much to teach you. Shoot them an email and ask if they'd be willing to share their career success story with you. When you're a full-time employee, your schedule is much less flexible and won't always allow for networking outside of your direct team.
*Everyone is winging it to some degree. You learn from your mistakes and successes, and then eventually you get the hang of things.
When you mess up, it's not the end of the world
Speaking of mistakes, you're going to make them whether you're an intern or a full-time hire. As Hannah Montana would say, "Nobody's Perfect." But when you're an intern, everyone knows you're still learning. You start with small tasks and hopefully work your way up to the bigger stuff by the end of your internship.
Meanwhile, new employees are trusted with the important big-time projects as soon as they complete training. The mistakes new employees make likely lead to rougher consequences than the mistakes interns make -- unless you're one of these interns.
You get to experience a new city
Not sure if the Big Apple is for you? Did Katy Perry's "California Girls" make you yearn for the West Coast? Internships are a great way to test out a new city before deciding whether or not you want to move there long-term. It can't hurt to spend a few weeks in San Francisco before schlepping all your stuff across the country to a city you may have never even visited before.
Your peers are younger than you
This depends on the company's internship program, but in general, summer interns are still in college. Let's be real here. You ideally want to get hired full-time at the conclusion of your internship, right? If all the other interns are still in college, you have zero competition for that coveted position.
A company can only hire so many interns, and they can't immediately hire anyone who is headed back to school in September. That leaves you! Go above and beyond at your internship and there may just be a shiny, sparkling REAL job waiting for you at the end.
It's cheaper than grad school
You won't be taking home the big bucks -- or, like, any bucks -- at an internship, but it's more financially savvy than, say, going to grad school just because you don't know what else to do with your life. Dropping tuition money or taking out loans to pursue a degree you're not truly passionate about isn't worth it.
You can (kinda) pretend you're still in college
Even after graduation, you'll still feel like a student. You spent four years living and breathing university life, so it might be difficult to relate to your older coworkers. You'll become fast friends with your fellow interns simply because you guys are at the same stage of life.
It takes a while for that college mentality to leave your system, and it certainly won't happen in the summer right after graduation. Having a support system in your fellow interns is invaluable, especially if you're living in a city where you don't know anyone else outside of work. Which brings us to...
It makes the transition to the real world easier
Interning is like dipping your feet into the pool known as the big, bad, scary real world. You get a taste of what adulting requires, like managing a (however small) paycheck and having to put on pants and be somewhere at 9 a.m. on the dot. When your internship is over and you start your first full-time position, wherever that may be, you'll be much more prepared to kick ass thanks to the life skills that your postgrad internship taught you.