ALL Undergraduate Career Services (UCS) events and coaching will be conducted virtually this semester.  Please visit our COVID-19 Update page for more details.

Experience Matters, Not Internships

work for experience

Experience Matters, Not Internships

By Thao Nelson

You’re probably thinking . . . is she really serious?  Yes, I am tired of hearing from our millennials, centennials, and their parents they are going to fail because they haven’t secured a formal internship.  It’s just not true.   Don’t take it from me, listen to what employers name as the most important elements in hiring graduates–jobs, internships, volunteering, and extracurriculars.  In other words, a collection of experiences outside of academics.

Is an internship helpful?  Absolutely, but not necessary and could actually backfire.  Let’s say you land a great, paid internship, but you spent 10 weeks with meaningless tasks (Starbuck runs & shuffling papers) interrupted by utter boredom.  Side bar – this shouldn’t be the case for the business students at Kelley.  I know, I work there.  Or, you volunteered at a local non for profit and were the assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.  You helped the CFO with the account payables and prepared the budget forecast using your mad Excel skills you learned in class.  BTW, you’re Accounting major to boot, so now you’ve gained relevant, real-world experience.  If you were to ask a major corporation what they would call this volunteer work supporting the CFO, they would call it an “internship.”

Repeat after me.  “I need experience, not an internship.”Remember, the experience can be paid or unpaid, and with a public or private sector.  Employers want to know “what did you do?” and “how did you make that organization better?”They want to understand the skills you gained or applied in hopes you can do the same for their company.  Of course everyone appreciates getting paid, but in the long run, experience will take you just as far.

So, no internship?  No problem.  Find a way to get relevant, meaningful experiences which will lead to a job!

Need help adding experience to your resume? Click here for internship examples to highlight on your resume.

By Trisha Doyle
Trisha Doyle Career Coach and Student Help Desk Manager Trisha Doyle

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Prebys Career Center, Room 0200
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