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Students, Do You Really Know the Value of an Internship?
By: Ashley Collins, AgCareers.com Education & Marketing Manager

The month of May is here. If your school year hasn’t ended, it’s right around the corner. If you’re not graduating, or if you are and you haven’t found a job yet, your next step should be starting your summer internship. Are you nervous? You should be. This is a big step in your journey to being a professional! And it’s a big investment in time and money for your host company where you’ll be interning. So do you really know the value of your internship?

Numerous people within the business began planning for your arrival as far back as a year ago or more. They traveled miles to attend your campus career fair, spent hours on their feet talking to your peers about their company, had days consumed with sorting through an email folder virtually bulging with applicants, completed phone, video and face-to-face interviews, and invested hours training managers, all to let you work with them for twelve fun-filled weeks this summer! According to the AgCareers.com 2015 Intern & New Grad Hiring & Compensation Report, your summer employer has invested over $12,000 into recruiting, hiring and paying you this summer!

Now those managers are shuffling their schedules so they can train you, meet with you on a regular basis, and help you build your network. Your manager will introduce you to some of their best clients and allow you to stumble over your words and send the wrong email attachment. Then they’ll help you correct the situation and learn from the mistake. You’ll get to meet members of upper management that your manager maybe hasn’t even met in person. You’ll have opportunities to use equipment that cost more money than you’ve spent on food since you started college. Managers will teach you tips and tricks your best professor had no idea existed. Your manager will listen to every idea you have, and then ask questions to help you execute your best ideas. On average, managing an intern can take up to 10 hours a week or 20-30% of a full-time employee’s time!

Best of all, your manager will get to know you. They will learn what your passions are and help you see how those can be put into action in your chosen profession. They’ll tell you stories about their professional journey and guide you to not make the same mistakes they did. They’ll give you valuable feedback, both good and bad. Feedback that be worth its weight in gold if you really apply it in your career! Your manager will serve as a reference for your next internship or full-time career; they’ll go beyond endorsing you on LinkedIn to writing you a glowing recommendation! All are experiences that are priceless! And, if you so choose, your manager will be your best connection to pursuing a career with the company. In 2014, nearly 20% companies in the ag industry extended full time offers to more than half of their eligible interns. Additionally, 42% of companies who hired new grads in 2014 reported that over 90% of their new hires had some type of previous internship or co-op experience… talk about a stamp of excellence on your resume!

So an internship is a truly valuable opportunity, not just monetarily but also in immeasurable experiences that will enhance your scholastic investment. An internship can help you understand what exactly you do and do not want to do in your career; it will open the door to additional opportunities, and allow you to put hours of lectures, labs, group projects and assignments into action. In 2014, there were nearly 1,500 internships listed on AgCareers.com – we hope you got one, they’re definitely valuable!