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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Internships to value yourself

Internships to value yourself

With the new semester starting up soon it’s time to get into learning mode.  Most people remember to sign up for the right classes to get there degree, but a lot of people don’t know about, or don’t go after one of the most important learning tools you can get as a student; an internship.  Over the coming days I’m going to post some articles on how to find internships, how to prepare your resume, what to expect at an interview, first day on the job, and other things along those lines.  But today I’m going to talk about why an internship is important.  Here’s a list of why every civil engineering student should get an internship.  In no particular order.
You get paid
Most internships pay.  Civil engineering interns get paid pretty well compared to most jobs you can get while in college.
Learn how it works in the real world
You learn a lot of great theory and background in school.  But frequently you never really see how that works out in the real world.  In an internship you get to see first hand how the process works in your field.
You get to work on real projects
This is perhaps the best part.  You get to actually use what you’ve been learning and learn new stuff that can help you in school.  Sometimes the projects that you work on in your internship can go more in depth in a week than you will get in a semester in one of your classes.  Plus they are all things you can put on your resume for when you graduate.
Your bosses understand
If you have a civil engineering internship chances are you’ll be working for someone with a civil engineering degree.  They’ve been where you are.  They know what it takes to get and engineering degree.  They are willing to help out.
Credit at school
Many schools will give you credit for internships.  The school I went to would let you get up to three credits and could count it as one of your electives.  Get with your adviser before the semester starts to find out what your school can do.
You get paid more after you graduate
People with experience get paid more than people without experience.  Having an internship on your resume shows that you know what you are getting into and that you know how to do things.  That will make you instantly more marketable than people with no experience.  That could mean not only more money in a job offer, but also more job offers.
Easier to get a job after you graduate
An internship does two main things to help you get a job after you graduate.  It gets your foot in the door for any companies that you work for.  It also gives you specific experience and accomplishments that you can put on your resume.
Find out what you like and what you don’t
I had a friend in college that every summer he worked for a different firm that did a different kind of engineering.  He definitely had the chance to try it all out and find what he liked.
An internship is worth more than a 4.00
While I was in school, and since then, I’ve talked to a lot of engineers that hire for their companies.  It’s been pretty consistent.  They say they’d rather see an internship on a resume than a 4.00 GPA.
A side note on this.  If you look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data for civil engineers http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm you’ll see that starting salaries for a bachelors degree is higher than a masters degree.  From what I’ve see, that’s pretty consistent for several different places that collect that data.  Based on the people I knew in college I think it’s because most of the people that have a bachelors degree also had an internship.  Most of the people that I know that went straight for their masters after getting a bachelors degree, did not get an internship.  Internships and the experience you get is very valuable.  I’m not telling you not to go after a masters degree, just make sure that you get some real world experience also.
Those are some of the main reasons that I came up with to get an internship.  What are some of your reasons?  What have you gained from your internship?  Any reasons why you think someone shouldn’t get an internship?


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