When do college students need to do an internship? A relevant internship can make all the difference between landing a job and getting rejected. According to U.S. News and World Report, the labor market is saturated with four-year degree holders. Hiring managers are increasingly focused on individuals with unique credentials, not just a college degree. A recent study showed that both employers and university officials view internships as a critical part of college education.

In addition to gaining real-world experience, internships can help students establish professional networks. Often, students can make valuable connections in their field before graduating, giving them an edge when applying for jobs. Also, internships give students a chance to network with industry peers and gain valuable industry contacts. While students often intern during their junior or senior year, experts say that starting internships earlier can have many benefits.

A fall internship, for example, can help college students identify which majors they want to pursue and which careers they want to enter. Part-time internships can help students develop workplace skills such as initiative and professionalism. But too early, an internship may not be helpful in defining career interests or building a resume, and it can feel endless if it isn’t enjoyable. Therefore, it’s important to decide when do college students need to do an internship.

In the meantime, students should take advantage of networking opportunities offered by their schools. Many students can meet employers through campus events and networking with alumni organizations. Other ways to find an internship include networking with alumni, local professionals, and other contacts. It’s also important to note that different internships will require different applications. Some will require the submission of examples of your work. To improve your chances of getting selected for a particular internship, read the directions carefully.

Many college students choose to complete their internships during their junior or senior years. The experience gained will improve their chances of getting elite internships later in college. The timing of an internship depends on the student’s career plans. If the student has internship experience before graduating, it’s best to start searching for internship opportunities early. Most internships require a certain amount of previous experience. Some internships require students to have a particular skill set, so make sure to check if this is necessary.

While interns do need to be persistent, they must be aware that they’re only working for a limited amount of time. As such, it’s important to make the most of it and remain in touch with key co-workers, as they may be able to help you land a full-time job after graduation. Remember, you don’t want to burn any bridges, as you’ll need a reference for a job after graduation.