While coursework, student life and athletics are key aspects of the college experience — each playing its own role in student growth — completing a college internship can be crucial to a student’s success beyond the classroom, providing them with a valuable foothold on the entry-level job market.

About 63% of graduates who completed paid internships received a job offer immediately after college, compared to 35% of those who did no internships, according to a 2015 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. It also revealed that the average starting salary of those with paid internships under their belts was $52,000 per year, compared to $36,000 for those without.

If that wasn’t enough reason for students to fit an internship into their college plan, here are four more reasons students should get their resume ready for an internship or two down the road.

Internships set students apart in the post-college job search

Sure, most jobs students apply for after college are considered entry-level. However, many hiring managers want entry-level employees to have some experience. This is because these employers want new hires to hit the ground running — which may be challenging for someone who has never worked in an office or lab before.

Furthermore, without an internship and the relevant experience it provides, creating an attractive resume can difficult. However, if students have internship experience they’ll have a stronger resume, and be more than likely than those without internships to be invited to interview.

The reason for this is simple. When employers are faced with a stack of applications, they must quickly weigh their choices based solely on the information laid out in front of them. While most of their entry-level applicants will be straight out of college, the ones with relevant internships will find their way to the top of the pile much faster than those with just part-time retail and restaurant experience.

Students get the chance to test drive their career choice

Many careers sound really great on paper, but when it comes to doing it day-in and day-out they may lose their appeal. Sometimes there can also be aspects of a particular career that most outside of that industry don’t consider — like endless stacks of paperwork, a highly competitive culture or dwindling opportunities due to industry decline.

It’s always a good idea to gain an understanding of what everyday life is like in the field a student is perusing, so they can discover if it’s something they even enjoy doing. One of the best ways for students to get their feet wet is to test the waters of their career choice through an internship, while there’s time to choose another path while still in college.

Interactions during internships help grease the networking wheel

Many times getting a great gig really comes down to who you know. One tried and true way students can get to know people in their industry is through internships. At its most basic level, every great interaction could lead to a new connection on LinkedIn which could be the key to a student’s biggest and best job lead. So it’s important for students to treat each day on an internship like an extension of the interview.

If a student knocks it out of the park impressing their internship boss, that internship could turn into full-time job after graduation. Or at the very least, it could earn the student a great letter of recommendation or reference for another future opportunity.

Interns get a soft introduction to workplace culture and etiquette

Workplace culture and etiquette can be fickle beasts that can be intimidating to newcomers. There are a lot of written and unwritten rules and protocols to unpack, all while trying to learn the basic responsibilities of the job and find the kitchen and nearest restroom.

Getting an introduction to proper office decorum on an internship, rather than while under the pressure of impressing a new boss and colleagues at a permanent job, can be priceless. Not only can it help new employees seem adaptable, it eliminates some of the awkwardness and jitters beforehand.

Want to learn more about getting students career ready? Check out the ¢ent$ibleKnight$ #Adulting program to find upcoming workshops that will help them master the skills they’ll need to land both an internship and their dream career.