The Class of 2014 Student Survey Report from National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) — a survey of more than 44,000 students from the class of 2014 — found that job seekers with internship experience were 13.5 percent more likely to receive a job offer than job seekers without internship experience.
So what makes internships so special?
Yes, internships give you the work experience you need to land your first job, but that’s not the only impact they can have on your career path. The time you spend at internships can help you learn more about your personality at work, and whether or not the path you’ve chosen is the right one for you.
With all the actual work involved in an internship, it’s easy for students to forget to take a step back and think about what they’re learning about themselves during their time as an intern. Here are three ways to take advantage of the different experiences you’ll have as an intern:
1. Find Out How Open You Are
Openness to experience is one of the “Big Five” personality traits, that describes how open a person is to accepting new points of view and experiencing new things. In an internship, being open to new ways of looking at and doing things can be a key part of the learning process.
For example, you may have learned how to write a community newsletter or create a regional sales strategy in the classroom, but how it gets done in the real world may be completely different.
Think about how you handle situations where you’re asked to take different approaches or think outside your comfort zone. Do you handle them well? Do you think of them as a challenge to be beat, or a road block that you can’t get around?
Learning more about how open you are can give you insight into how you’ll approach projects in the future. More importantly, if you find out you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other, it can help you determine if you’re more suited for roles in creative, forward-thinking organizations or organizations that tend to be more traditional.
2. Learn More About How You Handle Stress
At some point in every internship, things get stressful. Either they’ve given you so much work that you aren’t sure you’ll succeed, or you have a test to study for but you need to finish one last assignment before you can leave the office. These things are going to happen in real life, too.
How do you handle times like these? Do you get emotional and focus on the negatives? Or do you assess the situation, create a plan, and stay positive?
Your answers can help you determine how neurotic you are. Neuroticism — another Big Five trait — measures a person’s tendency toward negative feelings like depression, anxiety, and anger. Because of this tendency toward anxiety and anger, neuroticism is often linked with stress and the negative health implications that come with it.
Think about how often you’re anxious or worried about an assignment at your internship. If a deadline is getting closer, do you get worried and begin to stress out?
Some people relish short deadlines and perform better under the pressure that highly stressful workplaces provide. Others, not so much. That’s why it’s important to think about how you react to stress early in your career so you’re not constantly putting yourself in roles that may negatively affect your health.
3. Discover Your Energy Style
Are you an Introvert or an Extravert? If you’ve read anything about the two energy styles, you probably have an idea. If not, your internship is a perfect place to find out.
Extraverts get their energy from stimuli in the environment around them, while Introverts like to retreat inward to recharge. Traditionally, Extraverts are thought of as outgoing and loud, and Introverts are thought of more reserved.
Do you have a hard working in open offices? Do collaborative roles and prolonged group interactions drain you? These might be signs you’re an Introvert.
Are you the first to suggest a brainstorming session at the beginning of a project? Do you like to take breaks to chat with your colleagues to recharge? You’re probably an Extravert.
Why does it matter? From income to career advancement and more, research shows that your energy style can have a huge impact on how successful you are at work. During your internship, consider what factors tie into your successes and struggles. That way, you can make educated decisions about the companies you choose to work for and roles you’ll succeed in going forward.
What insights about your personality have you had during your internship? How have they helped you plan your career?
About the Author: Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment and other scientifically validated, user-friendly personality assessments that connect people with powerful insights about their strengths, talents, and traits. Find Molly and Truity on Twitter and Facebook.