Three Ways Internships Can Shape Your Career

Not having at least one internship on your resume is the professional equivalent of wearing jeans to your first job interview. With entry-level jobs requiring more and more experience, internships are a great way to begin working towards your dream career. So why should you take on an internship, especially an internship with a nonprofit, during undergrad?

1) Try Out Your Major

Internships provide a great way to test-drive your degree and decide what type of environment you would like to work in. There’s a huge difference between learning something in a classroom and actually working in the field. Internships can help you decide if you are truly passionate about your major and where you want to work in the future.

2) Real Experience

Internships are the best way to get practical experience in a career field and build professional skills. Most nonprofit offices are relatively small, and therefore provide lots of opportunities to get hands-on experience. Nonprofits generally need hard skills, like accounting, writing, or programming, so interns get the opportunity to build skills that are useful in both the for-profit and nonprofit world. There is also a range of projects that nonprofits tackle each year, which allows interns to explore the opportunities their major provides.

3) Build a Network

Having an internship is a great way to build a professional network and connect with people who share your interests and passions. They also provide the chance to get recommendations from professionals in your career field when you finally begin your job search. Beyond this, however, internships provide the chance to find a mentor who can give advice and information on their best practices and experience working in your field.

With over 160 nonprofit members, the Alliance for Better Nonprofits (ABN) has countless ways to gain experience as an intern. ABN's pilot internship program will provide unparalleled intern services to regional university/college partners and to ABN member nonprofits that meet our criteria. Through training and resources, ABN will equip nonprofits with internship best practices and provide a platform for students of partnering schools to find high-quality internships in the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit applicants for Fall Term 2016 have been chosen, but please contact Tiffani Mensch, Director of Community Engagement, at tmensch@betternonprofits.org if you'd like to be on the mailing list for future semesters.

For more information about our nonprofit members, visit ABN's Member Directory.

384 Madi Mayfield is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in Public Relations.