Not everyone thinks highly of internships, but they can be a great way to figure out if the career path you're choosing is the best one for you. When you get the opportunity to have a trial run at a career, it gives you a lot to think about. You'll also find out just what you're made of, and if the job seems like one you could handle for a long period of time. If it doesn't, you won't have lost as much time in it and you can change direction.
You might end up exploring several different careers before you settle on the one that you're most comfortable with. Internships can be a great way to do that, and it doesn't make your resume look like you bounced around from job to job. Many employers can be uncomfortable with that, but you can avoid all of it with internships. It's much more acceptable to intern in a few different areas than it is to be 100% employed in them and keep changing your ideas of what's right for you.
Internships also provide you with many available resources. You might make contacts and learn about specific types of technology during your time with a particular company. While you can get an overview of these kinds of things during your educational years, you're not going to get the same experience as you would if you were at a company doing what other workers there do. The technology and working conditions you get used to during your internship could pave the way for you to be hired full time by the company, or by another company in the same industry.
You can network with great mentors and industry professionals through an internship, as well. The more people you get to know, the more valuable connections you have n the business world. That can be highly beneficial when it comes to learning what the company is all about, getting promotions, or just getting some help to keep moving forward and doing the best job possible. When you have people who will take you under their wings, you learn the ins and outs of a company and an industry much faster than you otherwise would. It can also keep you from making unfortunate mistakes that might set you back within your chosen field.
The culture of any industry is very important to understand. You have to work within that culture in order to remain successful. While you may not be interested in playing office politics, it's generally something that's just necessary to get ahead. If you understand how the company works from the standpoint of interactions with others, you'll be more likely to advance to higher positions. Whether that's the right kind of environment for you is something you can determine through an internship. Not every industry's culture will be a good fit for you, and if you're not comfortable it's better to find that out as early as possible.
Use your internship wisely, and you'll get a lot of value from it. People who are committed to learning all they can during their internships are building real-world experience and getting in touch with people who can help further their careers. Those are both highly beneficial, whether you decide to stay at that company or you consider moving to a different one. Even if you choose to get involved in an entirely different industry altogether, you'll want to have good references from the people you got to know while you were an intern. Those relationships can be very valuable.