What is the intangible value of an internship?

You’ve just spent four (or more) years acquiring the skills you need to land a paying job in the “real-world.”  Countless hours have been spent reading and rereading tomes of information.  Too many quizzes and exams to count are under your belt.  And now you almost have the final prize, it’s so tantalizingly close you can taste it…the diploma.  The traditional lambskin key to your personal independence, first apartment, your own car, and a lifetime of self-sufficiency.

And since you will soon have the diploma in your hand, from a nationally recognized, top-tier public institution, the world is now your oyster.  Employers will finally be knocking on YOUR door to offer you that pearl, a sparkling gem of a paycheck…

…or will they?

Many students are quickly finding out the professional market is an unforgiving and fickle place.  Employers will tell you that they would love to hire you, but they want you to have some professional experience, and your ninja-like barista skills just don’t match what they want.  It will only takes your erudite mind a nanosecond to realize that you can’t get experience until you have had a job, and you can’t get a job until you’ve had experience.  You ask yourself, “Will this circular employment madness ever stop?”

This answer is yes, of course it will.  And the key to quickly ending this seemingly endless loop is an internship.

According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) 2008 Experiential Education Survey, on average, more than one-third (33%) of their new college hires came directly from an internship program and those employers who plan to make new hires in 2009 will continue to do so directly from internships via those programs.

Additionally, University of Wisconsin recognizes that internship programs are beneficial to employers as well as students. You’ll have the opportunity to determine if you’ve chosen the correct career path, and if you fit in with the employer’s company culture. Employers have a chance to see how you perform and what you could bring to an organization.  Even better, you’ll be on the internal fast track to any full-time opportunities as they arise.

And most importantly…this whole time, you are gaining that critical professional experience which might have stymied so many of your previous employment opportunities.  Even if you think this particular career isn’t for you, you’ll have make professional contacts you can reach out to.  You’ll earn glamorous and impressive letters of recommendation.

You’ll be building your resume.

And you’ll be well on your path to higher living standards and self-sufficiency.  Goodbye Top Ramen and now bring on those student loans!

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