Internships: Keys to the professional world

Internships sometimes get a bad rap. Enter movie scenes of the intern who had dreams of gaining hands-on skills in their industry only to find out they would be the coffee and lunch runner whose job is to be invisible and always at the service of their superiors. However, most internships are not like these stereotypical depictions. Employers want interns who can contribute to their company and potentially become full-time employees after graduation.

Even if the company you intern with does not have a job for you after you graduate, the experience you get from your internship will build your professional network and help you gain the skills you need to be competitive in the job market.

“Employers that recruit in our office want students to have a degree for sure, but almost all of them will say, ‘We’d love students that have at least some experience in our field,’ said Steve Sellars, associate director at the Office of Career and Professional Development at West Texas A&M University. “Internships are a great way to get that.”

Some internships are paid and some are unpaid, but the experience is what makes unpaid internships worthwhile. Having more experience does pay off after graduation. Students who have participated in internships are more likely to have higher salaries.

According to data from WTAMU graduates, “WT students who reported an internship made on average $3,200 more in their first year and $6,100 more in their second year than those who did not report having an internship.”

Internships are also a great opportunity to try out different jobs within your field to see what is a good fit for your skill set and personality. Working as an intern while you are working on your degree allows you to try out different jobs before committing to a full-time position in that role after you graduate.

According to, “An internship allows you to try out a career in a low-stakes situation, helping you to make more informed decisions on what you want to do with your life.”

Is there a company you would absolutely love to work for, but think there is no chance they would ever hire you right out of college? Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door with your dream company and find out if there are opportunities for someone like you.

Companies do not always advertise internships online, but, by making the first move and contacting them about your desire to intern with them, you might be able to experience working for a company you really admire.

“I’ve talked to a lot of businesses that say, ‘I may not always have something posted, but I always have something for the right person,’” Sellars said.

Be the “right person” and choose the experience you want for your professional profile. Contacting a company about your desire to get involved with what they are doing is a great way to show initiative and prove that you are someone they want on their team.


WTAMU’s Office of Career and Professional Development hosts one to two workshops each week to assist you with your job or internship search and general professional development. Topics include resume and cover letter reviews, interview preparation, LinkedIn assistance and more. To register for these workshops, log in to Handshake and workshops will be under the Events tab.

Follow @WTIntern on Twitter to find out about internship and job opportunities.

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