Aug 01, 2017 / in Comms Best Practices / by Cision Contributor

As a freshman marketing major in college, finding an internship was not easy. With little experience and only core classes completed, I was on the lower end of recruiters’ selections. Most of my friends were taking summer jobs like working as a lifeguard, nanny, or bussing tables. For me, however, I knew that I wanted to do more with my summer.

I was interested in gaining experience, building my network and having an edge in all my interviews for next summer. When I finally received news that I had been accepted to a strategic communications internship for the summer, I was worried that it would not be worth it for me. The long commutes downtown, not being paid, and spending my summer invested in something that barely related to my major was daunting to say the least. But now, seven weeks into the program, I’ve discovered that it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Read on to learn why communications internships are extremely beneficial.

1. Gain Valuable Experience

Any internship, especially after your freshman year, is a great way for you to learn about communications in a work setting. Every interview that you will ever go into, you will be asked about your experience outside of school. Experience in a professional setting makes you more valuable to any company.

Taking the initiative to take an internship proves that you are invested in your future, which stands out to recruiters. At the end of the day, the most important thing on your resume will not be your GPA, your major, or even your volunteer work. It will be your work experience, and the more you have, the better chance you have of landing a job.

2. Begin to Build a Professional Network

For any major, building your network is one of the most important things you can do. An internship is a great way to meet with people already working in the communications field. You’ll also meet fellow interns with interests similar to your own. While not completely accurate, the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is still very relevant.

Having a large corporate network will open plenty of doors for the future. Building relationships with as many people as possible could lead to amazing opportunities. These people can lead to references, introductions and even best friends. The larger network you build, the more references, introductions, and best friends you will obtain.

3. Making Use of Your Time

As a college student, there is no better time during the year than during the summer when you have maximum availability. Take this time to push yourself ahead of the curve.

An internship is better than any regular summer job. Instead of going into work bored and counting down the hours, you come into an internship every day learning new things that are crucial to your future success. Also, don’t think that taking an internship ruins your summer fun. Employers are people too and like to enjoy their summers, which means that you will have a sufficient amount of time to hang out with your friends and relax by the pool.

4. Be Ahead of Your Peers

Having an internship (paid or unpaid) looks great on a resume. The earlier you start, and the more experience you have, the better.

Having valuable experience on your resume is worth much more than jobs you did in high school like bussing tables, nannying, or life guarding. While these are great talking points during an interview, related work experience is going to be the base of your foundation. Recruiters are more likely to hire the candidate who spent their summer investing in their future and learning valuable material over the candidate who did the same job they have been working since they were a sophomore in high school.

Taking an internship early will set you apart from the rest of your peers and assist you in future opportunities like an internship next summer or even a job offer after graduation.

5. Find Your Passion

If halfway through an internship you find that the line of work isn’t for you — that’s ok! An internship is supposed to not only teach you about the company, but also about yourself. Through an internship, you will learn things like, what kind of work environment you like, where you see yourself in a company and whether the type of work is for you.

It is better to learn this information earlier rather than later so that you don’t wait to find out once you have accepted a job post-graduation. Furthermore, you can use what you learned in your first internship to narrow your interests and better pursue your passion for next summer.

Landing an internship is not always easy, and finding one specifically tailored to your liking is even harder. Do not take an internship if you know that it is in a field that you are not interested in. For example, don’t shadow a nurse for the summer if you are majoring in marketing. Remember, it is about relatable experience in the long run.

The great thing about communications is that it is a broad major, making it easy to find relatable experience. Feel free to get out of your comfort zone and spend the summer doing something that will make your future much easier. By gaining valuable experience, a massive network, and knowledge about your own passions, a summer internship is one of the most beneficial things you can do during your college career.

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By Ian Koenig, Cision Intern

Ian is an intern for Cision as part of strategic communications internship program and a freshmen at Ohio University.

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This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.