Research & Internships: Better Together

By Rani Chan

University students may think they have to choose between research and internships. Although some may believe this to be true, it’s not the whole truth. We should think about the worlds of research and internships together, not separately. In fact, research and internships complement each other and jointly can make fulfilling and memorable learning experiences.

Here are 5 reasons why research and internships are better together:

  1. Learning & Applying

Research and internships are learning experiences that engrain skills and techniques in students through application in relevant and practical scenarios. Research equips us with different research methods (for example, qualitative and quantitative in the social sciences) and lab techniques that allow us to conduct experiments and analyses in order to expand our knowledge and contribute to our respective fields. Internships provide concrete applications of classroom knowledge through real situations as well as tips on effective consulting to fulfill a company’s mission. Applying what we learn from our research and internship experiences doesn’t have to be limited. Research discoveries and methods provide new lenses for the real-life cases encountered in internships. Whether in business, education, healthcare, etc., internship experiences become valuable observations of real-world practices that researchers use in their studies.  

  1. Discovering Interests & Opportunities

Both research and internships help us find our true academic, career, and personal interests. With hands-on experience in both, we can pinpoint our strengths and weaknesses within a field and and hone our analytic skills (e.g. reasoning, interpersonal communication, time management). This will allow us to make confident decisions on whether a certain discipline, job, or work environment is suited to our own personalities and capabilities. Research and internships also can open doors for different career prospects, in both academia and other professional fields, and help us become well-rounded candidates.

  1. Being Independent

Research and internships require us to be independent. With research, we can either be accomplishing a sub-project within a professor’s bigger research, or conducting our own original, independent research project. With internships, we are given our own tasks to fulfill a company’s project and mission. Both research and internships allow us to take initiative in our tasks and develop self-discipline and self-motivation to effectively perform them. They also can allow us more room for creativity to go beyond the conventions by incorporating personal, fresh ideas to a research field and/or company model.

  1. Communicating and Connecting

Our research and internship experiences can help us succeed in effectively communicating and connecting with others in all fields. When it comes to presentations, research helps us to develop the habit of using evidence and sound reasoning to justify an argument and present trends through graphs, tables, and charts, while internships train us to clearly, concisely, and confidently convey our thoughts and reasoning in a professional context. When it comes to networking, research and internships provide opportunities to build stronger connections with faculty members and professionals, and gain from their insights and advice on how to succeed within a field. In general, research and internships allow us to find communities of experts and peers with similar passions as us.

  1. Making a Difference

No matter if we do research, an internship, or both, we are given opportunities to become a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. We gain a sense of purpose and responsibility to contribute knowledge to a field of study  and/or a professional field. More importantly, we are provided with the chance to do something we love. This intellectual and professional passion can lead to innovative ideas that can make huge differences to a greater community.

 

There’s a saying that “the sum is greater than its parts”. This is true for Research + Internships. Although participating in research or internships can produce great benefits in their respective areas, both experiences complement and support each other, such that they equip us to succeed and grow. Hence, it’s not research or internship; it’s research AND internships. If given the opportunity to do both, we should take it.