College courses are a tool that allow you to gain the knowledge and insight necessary to succeed in a particular field. The problem with college courses is that they don’t simulate real life experiences that take place in an organization.
They simply give you the knowledge to apply in the real world. So what do internships provide that you cannot learn in a college classroom? Listening and applying advice along with relationship building are two very important things that you learn as an intern. These are skills you might not learn from your college curriculum.
Generally, as an intern, you are the lowest on the ranking order in the office. By being in this position, it’s almost guaranteed that everyone in the organization has something to teach you. Whether it be about the company, the industry you are in or about life in general, co-workers can teach you so many valuable lessons that you can apply to your life.
The main goal of interning is to learn, you aren’t expected to know everything already. By being able to listen to other people you are working with and then applying what they say to your work or life, you can gain new skills or a different perspective on a subject that can change you as a worker or a person.
Additionally, it’s highly unlikely that you will work in the same position and for the same company that you are interning for. Learning as much as you can from co-workers can help you become more adaptable and versatile as a young business professional moving forward in the future. These are things you can’t learn from a powerpoint in class.
Furthermore, as an intern, the goal is to learn as much as possible about the company you are working for, as well as the people you are working with in order to make better connections. Textbooks cannot teach you how to interact with a co-worker or someone higher up in the organization, or how to make connections with them. This is done entirely by face to face interaction by using soft skills that cannot be taught in a book.
By learning how to create relationships with co-workers or people within the organization, you not only gain friendships but you also create professional connections that you can use moving forward in your career. This is a more intimate version of networking. You never know who your co-workers know or how they could help you out in your professional career. You might find yourself contacting them one day for things such as letters of recommendations, references on resumes, or other job openings with people within their network.
Relationship building is not something a college professor can teach you, but it is one of the most important skills you can develop to aid your career as a future professional.