One way many college students choose to enhance their experience is by taking on an internship. Some internships are paid and others are unpaid, instead resulting in college credit. Regardless of which type of internship you choose, there are some very real benefits of including a college internship in your college experience. Here are a few of them.

You experience an industry.

When you first start college, you generally choose a major based on your interests and the courses you find most appealing. However, the experience of working in a certain field can be very different from the experience of becoming educated in that field. Plus, with many degree programs, there are several different directions you can go and multiple industries you can enter. As such, it is nice to actually work in your chosen industry during college in order to see whether you truly enjoy it.

An internship affords you that experience in a rather low-commitment way. If you enjoy working in that industry, then you know you want to work in that industry once you graduate. If you don’t like the industry after all, then you still have plenty of time to about-face an find a new industry you’d rather work in.

You experience the professional work world.

Working in a professional environment is quite different from attending classes. Learning the company culture, how to communicate with managers and coworkers, and how to navigate meetings and assignments can all take some time. If you have a college internship, you get a chance to work in such an environment and pick up on these sort of soft skills. Then, once you graduate and find a full-time job, you can jump right in.

You’ll meet people in the industry.

Networking is so important in today’s work world. People generally find jobs through their connections. As an intern, you will have an opportunity to meet people working at a company in your preferred industry. You may also meet people at other companies via meetings and seminars you attend as an intern. The various connections you make will be people you can reach out to when you start officially job searching. Even if you don’t find your first join through these folks, they’ll be a part of your network and people you can reach out to in the future if you want to change positions or explore other opportunities.

You may find a job.

Not all internships lead directly to jobs after graduation — but some do. If you decide you enjoy interning at a certain company, you can ask them about openings they may have in the future. Or, they may decide you are a good fit and offer for you to stay on as a full-time employee once you graduate. Some internships are even designed as a sort of preparatory training for future employees.

You’ll learn what skills to focus on.

In a college internship, you get an inside look at what it’s like to work in a certain industry. You’ll get to observe what skills and knowledge are most important for the employees in that industry. This gives you a chance to plan your class schedule accordingly. For instance, if you notice everyone in the company uses a specific software, you may then decide to take a class on that software while you’re still in college.

If you’re looking for a way to enhance your college experience, apply for a college internship in your chosen industry. Working as an intern is a great way to build a network, build soft skills, and enter the professional world.