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Back before there were labor unions and a streamlined job marketplace, many people chose to send their children out to professionals to work as an apprentice. In exchange for a bit of money, this professional would teach the child how to do their craft. An internship is the modern equivalent of the historical apprenticeship. Rather than looking at your time spent as an intern as being unpaid labor, look at it as a quick way to get a lead on a great position in your field of choice.
When you work as an intern you can expect to network with successful professionals in your field of choice. If you are an intern at a law office you will get to meet great lawyers and all of the people that make the system work. Be sure to be pleasant and professional at all times. You never know who you might be working with down the line.
Past the simple opportunity to network you will also receive a great bit of resume gold. A quality internship, whether it turns into a full time position or not, will look great on your resume. Let's use that hypothetical law office as an example. So you serve a 6 month internship and get glowing reviews, but they don't have a position for you. Take that reference and experience and head over to another law office in the city. Now you have an inside track and a leg up on your competition.
Looking past even the goal of getting a job, an internship offers you the kind of education and experience that you will need to become successful in your field down the line. Reading books and going to school is great, but there's no substitute for hands on experience.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|