As far as employers are concerned, internships have gone from a “nice to have” to a “must have” on a recent college graduate’s resume. A growing number of colleges and universities require internships before graduation…and with good reason.
1. Polish your professional skills
One of the biggest perks of internships is that you can pick up professional skills through observation and practice. Did you like how someone opened up a conversation in an email? Or how someone delivered feedback to you? These tidbits can go a long way in helping you polish your professional skills for your future. An internship will help you learn meeting etiquette and gain confidence in talking to people at all levels of an organization. These professional skills will help you gain an edge over others as you enter the job market after graduation.
2. Build your professional network
Everyone you meet while working as an intern—from your direct supervisor to colleagues to vendors—are people with whom you can network. These are all people who can potentially connect you to job opportunities in the finance industry, or serve as a reference for you when you leave your internship.
3. Connect your coursework to a real work setting
When you are sitting in the classroom full-time, it can be difficult to see how the concepts you are learning will impact you in the working world. Getting a finance internship can help you not only apply what you have learned in class, but also give you a firmer understanding of the concepts as they relate to real people, situations, and organizations. Your internship experience will also give you more insight to utilize in class or in papers, as you learn about topics that relate to topics you are already familiar with.
4. Test out your career plan
Every job and every company is different. A finance internship will allow you to see whether a certain type of job or organization is a good fit for you. You will learn more about what you like and don’t like with every internship and job you take. An internship is a great way for you to test out a career plan before you begin to look for a full-time job when you graduate. Based on your internship experience, you may decide to take your finance degree into a different concentration or specialization. The best way to find out what you like is by trying it.
5. Prepare for job interviews
One of the hardest things about job interviews as a young graduate is having good answers to job interview questions. Most employers ask situational questions that require you have professional experience to draw on. Having internship experience will provide you with better examples of times you solved problems, took initiative, received feedback, or handled conflict.
6. Get a foot in the door
While there is rarely a guarantee of a job at the end of an internship, it is a common way for entry-level workers to get hired. Employers invest a lot of time and money training interns, and they would rather see return on their investment in the long-term than start over on new entry-level workers. Many employers see internships as a long interview—they can see how someone would fare in the actual workplace. Some Wall Street firms will not even consider entry-level candidates outside their intern pool because it seems too risky. The more competitive a company is, the more important it is to get a foot in the door as an intern.
7. Gain the experience employers want
Work experience is a frequent requirement in job ads—even entry-level job ads. Employers want to see graduates who have real working experience through internships. It is not uncommon for competitive firms to require 200 to 400 internship hours for their entry-level applicants. Having finance internship experience helps you differentiate yourself from other applicants and shows your ability to succeed in a professional environment. Plus, you will have real working experience to talk about when given situational questions in job interviews.