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5 Reasons Why Internships Are as Important as Your Degree

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5 Reasons Why Internships Are as Important as Your Degree

So many of us get caught up in the workload of actual classes during our college careers that we forget about internships until junior and senior year of college. The last two years are the most crucial and stressful. Add extracurriculars like sports or campus clubs and a job onto an already heavy load of classes, and if you’re anything like me, you’re barely getting 4 hours of sleep a night. Just when the finish line seems so close, you’re supposed to make time for an internship.

The fact that many universities don’t stress this until close to graduation is unfortunate, but the earlier you get on that train – the better. Granted, many of us change our majors a few times before really making a solid decision. Once that decision is made, it is time to start looking into internships. This might  mean cutting back hours at a job, cutting back on credits taken so you graduate a semester or two later, or dropping some extra curriculars. Internships (and the hands on experience you get and can put on a resume) are what companies are looking for.

Virtual internships

A study done by Interships.com showed that 66% of employers agreed that interview performance and relevant work experience were the most important hiring factors, not the 4.0 GPA that was so difficult to maintain, or on campus extra curriculars. In 2012, 54% of graduates were unemployed or underemployed. That being said, given internship experience, chances of being hired after college with a company that college graduates interned with go up to 70%. That’s a huge switch in probability (for the better) in the current tough economy.

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If you are desperate to graduate as scheduled and do not want to give up any extra curriculars, looking into virtual internships might work for you. These are not available everywhere. It will take some digging and maybe even some articulate reasoning to your department about why this is the kind of internship that you desire. If a virtual internship is not possible at your university then it is time to decide what is going to have to give. Here are the top 5 reasons why making the extra push to get one or more internships during college are very important.

1.Test Drive Career

There are internship possibilities for everything from counseling to zoo keeping. The trick is to take the time to find the right one for you so that you leave the internship with a better understanding of your desired career.

When I started college, I thought for sure I was going to go to law school. It wasn’t into my junior year until I realized my ideals no longer sat well with some of the things that I was learning, or with a lot of my peers. I took an internship with the local public defender’s office and it was exactly the evidence I needed to show me that law school was not the path for me. I was very fortunate to have discovered this before I spent many more years down a path that would have left me unhappy and in much more debt.

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2. Resume

Generally there are places on the campus that will help with putting a resume together. The truth though is that there is no one way to create a resume. Depending on your field of interest it may be a strict one page. Some are lenient and are okay with two pages. Some fields look for character, and others just want the facts. There is no way to really be sure unless you have spoken with those potential employers and find out exactly what it is they are looking for.

Also, and this is the most important, having some experience that pertains to the job being applied for after college (besides fast food or baby sitting– whatever college job you had)  is absolutely necessary. Your degree or degrees will stand out, but employers want to know that you have the real life skills to do the job well.

3. Networking

While interning you not only get to meet people at different levels of the company or government entity but you are able to connect with them as well. There is an opportunity to ask questions you probably wouldn’t have thought of otherwise as well as make an impression on the right people so that they remember you when hiring time comes.

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There is also the added factor of those same people contacting you if and when something new in another avenue that maybe you had not considered before becomes available. Those connections and the connections of those you have come to know will be key to finding jobs after college if a position at the internship does not work out.

4. Experience

This may be a bit redundant but it is THAT important. Through an internship, you gain a better understanding of your respective area of study and be able to make the connection between your current studies and how they will apply once you graduate.

If you have not ever worked in a professional atmosphere (and even if you have) sharpening those skills and interacting on a professional level creates the teamwork, communication, and leadership skills employers are looking for.

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5. Confidence

This is not something that comes easily to everyone. Even if you are a very confident individual it may come across as arrogance if you have no prior on-the-job experience.

Starting a career after college can be scary for anyone. Having made connections through an internship and having had the opportunity to make mistakes before graduation is such an advantage. It will also give you an idea of the pace of the position that you hope to acquire, making sure you are aware of the workload you are taking on and what is expected of you, so you can walk into that first interview standing tall and confident.

Remember grades are a wonderful representation of intellect, but they are not necessarily a representation of work ethic. Learning what is necessary while in college and then being able to apply that knowledge to the skills needed are what employers want to see.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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