Students should expand past summer internships

A goal many college students share is landing a dream job as soon as they graduate, and they almost always need previous work experience to have their application considered. The first instinct most students have is to apply for the internship that pays nothing, requires them to perform the most menial of tasks and doesn’t give them the job satisfaction they were hoping for.

The internship ends up becoming more of a chore than a meaningful job experience, simply acting as one more point to include on a résumé.

It leaves the student reading their résumé and thinking, “I’m glad I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Naturally, the defense for internships is that they are useful for gaining industry exposure, and that is not to say internships are completely useless résumé-fillers.

Internships do provide students with opportunities to build networks in the fields of work they are looking at, and many employers look highly upon past internships.

But should internships be the immediate answer to finding work experience to include on a résumé?

I believe students should be more open to trying different avenues of work, specifically manual labor. Now the term “manual labor” is extremely broad, so for the intention of this piece, I will refer to “manual labor” as any type of work that requires you to be on your feet and getting your hands dirty.

Think along the lines of farm or orchard work. Most of the time this kind of work is disregarded or looked down upon because of its nature. It’s messy, physically demanding and many times requires you to go out of your comfort zone to get a job done. But it’s also rewarding.

Not only is it rewarding for yourself to see the results of your hard work right before your eyes and know you made a difference, it’s also rewarding for your résumé.

The hard work that is needed is character building. It shows people a certain quality and a certain grit, that you have. It shows that you’re not afraid to work hard to get the job done. In a job interview you can discuss how all the heavy lifting you did revealed parts of yourself you never knew existed. It may not be the most relevant work for what you may be applying for, but the personal experience gained from it is unmatchable.

The point of this piece is not to slander the image of internships. I do believe they are very important for many industries, but I also believe there are other options to build a résumé. It may not be the most logical choice, but manual labor offers unique opportunities for you to work outside, feel rewarded for your hard work and gain résumé-worthy experience.

So go ahead, apply for that internship, but maybe consider offering to help on that farm near Wake Forest or your home for a summer or two.