When deciding whether to obtain a degree in a field you wish to work in or to start with real-world work experience to move toward your career path, it may seem like a difficult decision. The good news is, you can choose to have the best of both worlds. By participating in an internship while obtaining your degree, you will come out with the qualification you wanted along with the work experience you need to land a job that puts you on your desired future career path and gives you a competitive edge at interview.
These internships are known as school-supported internships; some will even provide you with credits and professional experience in a quality workplace. Even better, the school will usually have industry links with they use to place you in internships in your field of interest, making the process significantly easier than trying to obtain an internship on your own.
What are Internship Goals?
Internship goals serve as benchmarks that can be measured and set by interns themselves, which are also often shared with their internship employers and advisors from their college. As an intern, your primary objective in the workplace is to acquire knowledge and gain valuable experience, while also fulfilling any educational program requirements. By establishing and evaluating your goals, you can determine if your internship has adequately met your needs, ultimately boosting your confidence as you enter or re-enter the workforce.
Establishing goals can help in focusing and committing to the required tasks. Internships usually last several weeks to several months, and setting achievable goals within this timeframe can help in advancing your career. Some of the general areas that an intern may incorporate into their goals include:
- Academic learning goals encompass the application of knowledge gained through training or classroom instruction to real-world workplace situations.
- Career development goals involve exploring the duties and qualifications of different careers to determine personal interest and fit.
- Skill development goals focus on building an understanding of the knowledge and skills required in specific industries or workplace environments.
- Personal development goals focus on acquiring skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, and enhancing self-esteem and empathy.
Internship Goals: What Do You Want to Achieve During Your Internship?
Depending on your chosen career path, you can draw inspiration from these examples to create your own set of personalized goals for your internship.
1. Explore a Variety of Industries and Career Options
Most degree plans offer a wide range of career options in different industries. With an internship, you can learn the different types of businesses and positions available in those businesses that can fit with your degree plan. You may find that the career path you planned for changes, and you enjoy a different position that you may have not thought of. It will also allow you to explore the different types of industries and sizes of companies so that you can find one that will best suit your career and lifestyle needs.
Over the 24 weeks, I split my time between Operations and Finance. In Operations, I executed a number of tasks relating to guest satisfaction, loyalty program enrollments, brand standards...One of my favorite aspects of this internship was preparing for hotel openings.
2. Build a Professional Network
No matter what career path you choose, networking is a crucial part of succeeding. You will need to build a strong network to learn more about the field, to find career opportunities in your field, and to develop contacts that you may have to rely on for certain aspects of your job. In fact, you have a better chance of securing a job in your chosen field by connecting with people in the industry, whether they are other industry professionals or coworkers.
3. Apply Your Knowledge in the Professional World
You will learn a lot through your college course but still may not understand or know how to apply these skills in the business world. With a school-supported internship, you will be able to test out this knowledge firsthand as well as the various skill set you acquired throughout your education, such as soft skills. This will not only give you an opportunity to see how all your earned knowledge is applicable, but it will also help you determine which skills you will need to improve upon.
4. Strengthen Your Resume
A college degree definitely adds strength to your resume, but as the professional world becomes more competitive, many businesses are also looking for real-world experience as well. Even an entry-level position may require some work experience, and an internship can provide that, giving you an edge over other applicants applying for the same position. Companies will also like the fact that you may be easier to train or be able to jump right into a position because you have already worked in a professional setting.
5. Improve Your Time Management and Communication Skills
Time management and communication are two of the most critical skills that you will utilize in any type of position. While these are skills that can be taught in a formal education setting, utilizing them in a professional setting will allow you to not only appreciate their value but utilize them more effectively. During college, you manage your time according to your personal and class schedule. When you work at a company, you will need to be able to make sure that deadlines are met around others' schedules. You also will improve your communication skills in communicating with supervisors, team members, clients, and other employees.
6. Learn From Others
Even though learning from others seems like a normal thing in almost any setting, with an internship, you will be able to observe other employees performing their job roles and utilizing the necessary skills to be successful in that position. You will also learn firsthand what goes into the positions you are interested in. You can set yourself up to learn even more, by asking supervisors and co-workers if you can shadow them for the day to see what their day-to-day looks like. You can also ask to sit in on meetings to observe how to conduct yourself professionally and how most effectively to get your opinions and ideas across.
7. See How a Professional Workplace Operates
You will learn the basics of business operations from your school textbooks and lectures, but in the real world, not all businesses operate the same. With an internship, you will be able to witness different organizational structures and experience the workflow process and corporate culture for yourself. While this may not be the exact way the business in your future career operates, it will give you a look at a professional workflow process. You will learn everything from how employees relate and interact, to how the leadership structure operates. This knowledge can help make the onboarding process for your new job go more smoothly.
Immersed in a work environment surrounded by top luxury brands, I got to meet many seniors in the industry, Hublot's friends of the brand, and guests I received at the Baselworld. The knowledge and experience I accumulated during our school courses and my first internship have greatly helped my work.
8. Secure Graduate Employment
The goal of any student is to graduate and obtain a position in your chosen career field shortly after you complete your studies. When you take advantage of internship opportunities, you may find a position and company that you wish to work for in the future. By completing an internship, you will be able to show that company that you have the skills and the drive to fill one of their entry-level positions. Many companies actually prefer to hire interns as they will learn about their company and what the position entails, making it easier for them to fit in with the company with little additional training.
From learning soft skills, to gaining professional experience, internships can help you get a jump start on the career you have always envisioned or help you decide on a career path you'll love.