Internships are where higher education meets employment; they allow students to gain experience working in an organisation while studying at university. They can be paid or unpaid and allow you to work in an organisation for a set period, which could be anything from one intensive week, to interning once a week for twelve months.

It is likely that your lecturers and tutors have already mentioned the importance of internships and industry experience. It is also likely that the thought of careers and taking on work experience might leave you feeling apprehensive, especially if you are still trying to get your head around university life and study. When you think of all the benefits that go with completing an internship, however, it really is worth it.

So, here are a few benefits that will change your mind and make you search for an internship right away:

Boost your Resume

Getting real-world experience under your belt and onto your resume is crucial; after all, prospective employers want to see that you bring a good set of professional skills to the table.

Still, you need to present your internship experience on your resume strategically if you want to impress future hiring managers.

Employers can read a lot from a sheet of paper. Having a number of internship experiences will show that you are keen to gain employment in the industry and will also indicate to employers that you have the right skills and enough experience to take on a permanent paid position. Don’t just leave an internship until your final year of study; the more internships you complete, the fuller your resume will become and the more attractive you will look to future employers.

Convert your academic knowledge into industry skills

While many TV shows portray interns as minions who perform mindless errands like fetching coffee and sandwiches, internships involve so much more. You might actually be surprised with the amount of responsibility that you are entrusted with. Interns are often given specific individual tasks and responsibilities, as well as being designated roles within a team working on a project.

For many students university can be quite theoretical and an internship is their first opportunity to apply their knowledge to the real world. The experience will not only help you to develop the skills needed to work in your industry; working on real projects for a real organisation will also give you the interpersonal skills that you need to work effectively with others — and confidence in your own abilities.

Figure out what you want to do—and don’t want to do

“An internship is an important step to establishing your career goals,” says Pulin Sanghvi, executive director of career services at Princeton University.

So, if you think you know what type of job you want after college, do a test run through an internship, says Rebecca Sparrow, executive director of career services at Cornell University.

But make sure you match your career interests to the type of internship you do. “If you think you want to work in the startup world, you need to intern at a startup,” says Sparrow, “since your notion of what it’s like to work at a startup might not match reality.”

Moreover, figuring out what type of job you don’t want while you’re interning can help prevent you from accepting an ill-fitting job when you graduate.

You can gain an unforgettable life experience

While the career you end up working in may be a bit more down-to-earth, internships allow you to explore all the possibilities and come away with an experience that you will never forget. While a full-time job may be hard to come across in certain areas and organisations, many companies are willing to take on an intern. An internship could allow you to take a look into professions and organisations that you’ve only ever dreamed of.

You could find yourself interning at a sporting club and attending matches and events, chasing the biggest story of the year with a news crew, interning for a renowned fashion designer or coordinating a prestigious event such as fashion week.