Graduating can be terrifying. You’re supposed to go out into the real world, get a job and become a functional member of society?

After years of living in hoodies and sweatpants and waking up at 1 p.m.? (Think: itty-bitty baby bird being thrust out of its nest.)

Possibly the scariest aspect of this ordeal is that you’re supposed to go from sitting in a classroom, probably not paying any attention, to sitting in an office, doing real work for a real boss and real clients. Uh, what?

Allow me to present to you a solution to this frightening quandary. Get an internship.

Think of an internship as Mr. Miyagi, someone older and wiser, someone to impart his knowledge upon you. Someone to guide you through the fight.

An internship can help you narrow down what you want to do with your degree.

I graduated with a Journalism and Mass Communications degree from St. Bonaventure, and that degree opened the door for me to enter a large number of fields. Through my classes and other internships I ruled out certain career choices and settled on public relations. My internship this summer at Momentum Communications Group has reaffirmed that I made the right choice. That’s the great thing about internships; they give you a little taste of what a particular field/career is like. So you can decide what’s best for you. (And what’s really really not for you.)

An internship gives you real-world experience with the added bonus of a safety net.

Your boss will be there to catch and correct your mistakes. (And you will make mistakes.) Sure, the idea of someone looking over your shoulder isn’t so great, but this person is there to help you and to answer questions you may have. Plus, it never hurts to have a second set of eyes reviewing your work. At Momentum I have had instrumental experience writing pitches and emailing/phoning tons of people in a professional manner. All these tasks are essential to a successful career as a public relations professional. And my boss has been there to review my work with me and show me where I need to improve, preparing me for my future career in public relations.

You work with people who have experience in your field.

Just as Mr. Miyagi imparted his karate knowledge upon Daniel-san, so too will your mentors impart their knowledge on you. As if the actual work experience doesn’t teach you enough, these people know the tricks of your trade. Interning will teach you things you would never learn in a classroom. An internship will teach you the importance of research in public relations. Maybe we touched upon it in class, but it wasn’t until I started my internship here at Momentum that I realized how much research really goes into public relations work. You also gain experience with programs used frequently in your field. Aside from the typical sleuth work via Google, day in and day out, I work with Cision, software used to create media lists, targeting specific reporters.

You get used to working. (And the idea of getting up before noon.)

While not all internships happen in an office, they still provide fundamental knowledge about working in the real world. Like the fact that you can’t wake up ten minutes before you’re supposed to show up to work, the way you used to do for class. And it’s common courtesy to clean up your spaghetti when it explodes in the microwave. (Your mother isn’t coming to work with you.) Internships help you transition from bad college habits to good, working adult habits.

It’s going to look great on your résumé.

When you feel comfortable enough to start looking for a long-term job, your internship experience will appeal to potential employers. You can drop the names of all those programs you learned how to use. Because of your internship you will be able to network more proficiently, which is crucial in public relations. You will walk into interviews with confidence because you can count on the fact that employers will recognize the value of your internship as a learning tool.

So, go ahead, go get an internship. Take this time after graduation to ease yourself into the real world, while all your college lessons remain still fresh in your brain.

Follow Momentum Communications Group @MomentumComGrp