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On the path to finding a job either straight out of school or during a career change, many of us take internships. These roles provide real-world experience that can be helpful in determining a future career. Internships aren’t just valuable, they can be mandatory for some professions. Here are some tips to make the most of an internship — whether that’s a job offer or a career revelation.

Find Out What You Like

Taking an internship, whether for pay or school credit, allows you to see what it is like to work within a particular field. As opposed to simply hearing how an office runs, interns get to see it happen and even participate in the running of an office. This allows you to see not only career paths, like say technology, but particular jobs that might interest you. Also, you can see what environments are most appealing to you.

It’s a good idea to seek multiple internships and try to vary the place as well as the position. Try a startup company, a large corporation and one in between to see where you feel most comfortable.

Or What You Don’t Like

An internship can even be valuable if you find you don’t like the environment, the position or the field as a whole. This can allow you to rule it out from your future plans. You can adjust your classes, major or additional internships to fit what you’ve learned from this one. It’s just as important to eliminate options as it is to add when picking what you want to do with your life.

Make Contacts

The people you meet during your internship can help you get your next job or one down the line. If you are hoping your internship will turn into a full-time job, impressing those around you is very important. But even if you are ruling out the workplace or the profession, it’s best to make a good impression.

Some of your superiors can act as references for you in the future for another profession or for returning to school. Even if you think the skills you are using at your internship won’t be useful for the field you plan to pursue, there are general life skills that are always important. At the very least the people at your internship can attest to your punctuality, positive attitude and desire to excel. So it’s a good idea to consistently demonstrate those traits!

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