I used to think that internships were an after-junior-year thing. I thought you had one internship, if it went well you worked there after graduation, and if not, at least it was an asset for finding a real job. It was only when, through a series of fortunate events, I found myself with an internship the summer before my sophomore year of college did I realize that the earlier you can land an internship, and the more years you can get experience in a field, the better. I was always interested in a hundred different things, and never wanted to rule something out for the fear that it was what I would love/be really good at/was meant to do. My first internship helped me to realize fields I am interested in and fields I am not as passionate about. Although I know now that I do not necessarily want to repeat my experience from last summer, what I learned both on the job and about the job I have found invaluable to my outlook on school and work.
College is a lot about fun, learning, and new experiences, but on the flip side of all these great aspects of university is the looming feeling that you are making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. “What are you studying?” tends to sound like “What are you even doing with your life?” A college education is expensive (as I’m sure we all know!) and an internship can help you to know what fields you are and are not interested, so as to help you direct your learning and get the most out of your four years at university. Getting working experience in the real world will also help you to understand what you want to pursue post-college (something that does not, in fact, have to correlate perfectly to what you want to study in school). Additionally, the knowledge and skills that you will acquire from an internship simply cannot be learned in school. The best kind of knowledge comes from doing, not watching, reading, or writing.
I am not saying that finding an internship as a rising junior, and especially as a rising sophomore, will be easy. Many internships require that you be entering your senior year, and some even require a degree. There are opportunities out there, however, and they are worth pursuing. The experience that you will get out of an internship is the end-goal. It may not be paid or the “perfect” job, but proving that you have the skills to be an effective intern will be a huge advantage as you continue applying to new positions.
Here are some great sites to help you see what’s out there, and hopefully get you applying!: