Getting an internship is a very important part of anyone’s college education. In my opinion, grades are secondary to training and work experience, especially in science-based fields. While grades are significant, they are not the only factors that contribute to success after college. Classes give us the basic knowledge and fundamental tools to be successful in whatever field we choose. But making connections and gaining first hand experience is what really makes the difference when it comes to finding a job once the cap and gown has been hung back up. Internships also help us decide if we even like the field we have chosen, or if we need to look elsewhere for something that better suits our passions and interests. Although internships are very important, it does not make it OK to slack off in classes. A slacker in the classroom is often a slacker on the job, and to make an impression or even find an internship, good grades are a must.
Internships are also a great way to decide if you are even in the right field. If you get an internship while you are still in school and decide that it is not the right place for you, you still have time to make the proper adjustments to your major or better understand what kind of job you want after college. Do you like an office setting, or do you prefer to work in the field? Do you even like anything about what you are doing? If not, it may be time to reevaluate your major and pick something that you think you will enjoy more. Once college is over, there is not much you can do to switch fields completely without going back to school. So try out as many options as you can and figure out what works best for you, preferably before graduation.
Another reason internships are so important when it comes to job hunting is because of networking. The more people who know who you are or even just recognize your name, the better chance you have of finding a job. It is important now more than ever to meet the right people and make the right impressions. In many cases, who you know can become just as important, if not more, than what you know. Getting your foot in the door is the first step when looking for a job and already knowing someone on the inside can make a huge difference.
Contrary to popular belief and reality TV, most people have to work hard and make sacrifices to land that dream job. Your social life and extra-curricular activities may have to take a hit in order for you to ultimately get what you want, but it is completely up to you what sacrifices and trade offs you are willing to make.