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Internships Open Doors to Jobs, Workplace Expectations – SHRM

by Arifa Rana

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Internships can give students an edge over other job applicants—"especially if the internship was with the specific company doing the hiring," according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

But that’s just one of many benefits such an experience can offer.

"From my perspective, the most valuable part of an internship is a novice being introduced to a new world of work and the professions, where a skilled mentor can introduce them to the unique cultures and tasks of being a professional engineer, architect or project lead," said Matthew T. Hora. He is associate professor and co-director, Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lead researcher for the paper, Exploring Online Internships Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020-2021.

"Otherwise, outside of classroom projects or personal experiences, a graduate is thrown into the world of work with little preparation."

Not all internships are created equal, though, Hora told SHRM Online.

"Some interns have excellent supervisors while others have none, and some interns engage in challenging work similar to entry-level employees while others unfortunately still do the equivalent of making photocopies," he said. 

"That said, the research indicates that internships can lead to more interview callbacks, higher wages after graduation, expanded professional networks and even higher grades while still in college."

For students looking to prepare for life after college, well-structured internships can be a worthy investment of time and effort. According to NACE and other sources, internships can:

Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
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