An internship is an exceptional accompaniment to a college education. Some majors stress the importance of real-world experience to the point that it's required, like medicine. Regardless of your major, an internship is a great way to expose yourself to a discipline or field outside of a college environment.
As a Mechanical Engineering Student at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, the coursework that you are put through prepares you for a career on the basis of knowledge and problem solving. An internship helps show you how to apply that knowledge to projects and other assignments. In addition to applying knowledge, an internship teaches you interpersonal skills and communicating effectively with others. The Dale Carnegie session that we had at our weekly "Intern Lunch and Learn" was an awesome way to learn tips and techniques in interpersonal skills. In college you learn to communicate and collaborate with others in your major, but they have a similar background. It is crucial to know how to communicate and work well with others who have different backgrounds than you. No matter where you work, not everyone on your team will have the same exact background, so utilize that and learn from your colleagues as much as possible.
Groupwork in college is typically not the norm, most of your assignments are meant to be done on your own. Individual coursework shows that you can do the work yourself, where as groupwork demonstrates your effectiveness in a team. The college setting that you are exposed to doesn't quite emulate the real world, but it's close. In a college group, everyone will have a similar background. The deadlines set by your supervisor and those set by your professor are both equally important and your time must be managed appropriately to meet them.
Internships are integral to making the transition from college to a professional setting. If you were to go straight from school into a career, it may be difficult adapting to the different environment. However, with experience from an internship, you'll be able to hit the ground running.