As business school students, we are taught time and time again the importance of good internships. The big companies are in the spotlight and the pressure is on to seek out those opportunities. While my summer as an intern was extremely valuable, I do not want to discount the time I spent working on campus and gaining experience outside of the corporate world. During my junior and senior years I chose to work in two different roles on campus and I gained a lot of valuable skills that I was able to leverage when interviewing down the road.
Balancing a full course load, part time job, and extracurriculars is intimidating. You don’t want any of the three to slip, you want to give each one your all. Taking on a part time job or internship at all during school teaches you great time management skills, but working on campus allows you more time to focus on the other two pillars. Not only did I have a 3-minute commute, but my supervisors were very flexible with working around my schedule – letting me take off a day before a big test, or rearrange my hours during busy weeks. I am certain there is no way I could have pursued so many leadership opportunities and on-campus activities had I taken off-campus internships. Working for the university allowed me to continue to focus on my studies and pursue even more experiences, gaining more and more valuable life skills along the way.
As a student assistant, I wasn’t just doing grunt work for my boss, but a lot of my daily work was getting a variety of assigned tasks from multiple supervisors – all with different timelines and processes. I spent a lot of time organizing these projects and prioritizing tasks, an important skill that many employers will inquire about. Perhaps these projects weren’t as impactful as a summer-long intern project at a big-name company, but dealing with so many different duties leads to strong organizational skills. Best of all? You are directly contributing to the success of your institution, which can be extremely rewarding.
The Importance of Networking
Just because you’re on-campus and not at Google or Amazon doesn’t mean you aren’t making valuable connections and forming meaningful relationships with your colleagues. All of my on-campus co-workers and managers invested a lot of time and energy into our relationship and I know how much they genuinely want to see me succeed. They have been a tremendous resource – always willing to give me advice, be a reference, or introduce me to contacts in their network. Working in higher education, they are already invested in students and the university and getting to know them gives me an appreciation for what they do to help us students succeed.
Ultimately, I appreciate the valuable skills that internships bring business students around the globe but I wanted to take a moment to highlight other options. I greatly appreciate everything my on-campus jobs taught me, the relationships I made, and the other experiences they allowed me to have.
For me, this was a rewarding path – for others, internships may be the way to go. Tell me about your work experiences as an undergraduate below.