Internships vs Self Projects

Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

The time of year when college students at every university are scrambling to find internships is a stressful one. Some students secure internships in September for the upcoming Summer. While others do not land their Summer internship until well into May.

But nonetheless it is often a stressful experience. After all we are told that finding internships are crucial to landing a job post graduation.

Why does the job market value internships so much?

Well they show that you have real world experience. Or are supposed to. But as we know not every internship is created equally.

In one internship an intern may merely be the paper pusher, coffee getter, and meeting scheduler. Is this really developing any skills?

On the other hand there are many internships where real world skills are developed coding on company projects, selling the product, working on marketing projects. These are all great and if the internship appears to offer a great support system and mentorship along the way then these internships are ideal.

Let’s say you have explored your internship options and you actually get a couple good offers from companies where you will develop real world skills and learn from others. However you have an interest in starting your own project.

Where does starting your own project fall on the scale?

I would argue that most people fear this option becuase it is less safe. The workplace overall would look more favorably at someone who has an internship over someone that started their own project for the summer.

I believe this is backwards. A self starter shows initiative, courage, and along the process of starting their own project will learn a ton about all aspects of business. Yes, most likely, their project will fail. But so what? That is a good thing it means that they will be available in the labor market.

Internships are great because they provide students an opportunity to learn first hand from workers in their industry. Also it is the most common way to get a foot in the door for after graduation. However I believe self projects deserve more of a role as well.

What do you all think?

Thanks for reading!

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