As someone who recently had an intern assigned to them, I figured I would take the time to explain to the world some of the benefits of adding an extra years to the college experience.
You enter college and you feel you have the world by the nuts. In four years, you are going to get out, find a job, and make so much money that you will have to take all your vacation time just to spend it all. Then reality sets in. You have student loans. You have a car payment. You don't want to work in fast food for the next three years of your life. But there is that office over on the corner of campus that may hold some hope for you.
Most college campuses have a co-op/intern office that assist in finding jobs for college students. The idea is that a company gets cheap labor while the student gains experience. At the same time, the college develops a relationship with the community.
The advantages of interning/co-oping are significant.
1. The student gains valuable knowledge in their chosen field of expertise.
3. Upon graduation, the student has a significantly higher chance at landing a job. More importantly, many employers tend to give some credit for experience gained while in college. This tends to translate to even more $.
4. Better still, the student leaves college with a better appreciation of what the work force is like, and can hit the ground running when they start their new job
Of course, this assumes that the student chooses to leave their employer. Many companies use their co-op program to recruit new employees for the long haul.
As I see it, there are only two drawbacks to this plan.
1. Extra terms spent in school. While not spending any extra class time in college, interning will potentially delay your degree for up to two years, depending upon the program. This could be time spent earning valuable experience for more $ as a lower paid (but higher than an intern) employee.
2. Time spent with the same employer tends to cause narrow vision with respect to opportunity. If four terms are spent with the same employer, the student may not realize there is more out there to experience.
I highly advocate interning during your college career. However, my circumstances allowed me the time to add an extra year to my college career. I considered it the equivalent of seasoning my abilities, and I was fortunate enough to be able to intern for four terms.
If this sounds like a lot, even a single term of experience would be to your advantage. Think of the summer you intend to spend around the pool, working on your tan. You could, instead, be working on your future!