More to College Than Good Grades: The Value of Internships & Extracurriculars

Kapish Haldia
3 min readSep 22, 2023

Ten years after you graduate from college, prospective employers and dating partners might be interested to know where you went to school. But trust me when I say that no one will care about your college GPA.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do as well as you possibly can at university. Good grades absolutely expand or constrain your post-graduation opportunity set, especially if you’re planning to attend graduate school straightaway. They don’t let just anyone into law school or med school.

At the same time, your academic activities are only part of your higher education experience. Perhaps not even the most important part. Many of my colleagues swear that they learned more from internships, externships, and on-campus extracurricular activities than they ever did in a classroom.

I had a pretty full extracurricular plate in college, myself. Here’s why I’ve come to appreciate the importance of getting out into the real world — and why you should strongly consider doing the same when the opportunity arises.

They Offer a Break From the Academic Grind

Being a full-time student is hard work. Any productive activity that gets you out of the classroom, library, or dorm study area counts as a win.

Structured study breaks are like naps. They take some of your valuable time, sure. But when they’re done correctly, they make you more productive rather than less. In real-world terms, they have positive ROI. When it’s time to get back to the grind, you’re more focused and more effective than before.

They Spark New Interests

Whether you’re running a real-money investing club or interning with the CFO of a youth empowerment organization — both of which I did at NYU — your extracurricular activities might just awaken your calling. Several of my fellow investing club members went onto successful careers in finance, and it’s one of the handful of experiences I had as a young person that sparked my passion for building companies.

They Build Skills You Never Knew You Had

Even if you have little “real” responsibility as an intern or extracurricular club member, just showing up and participating is practice for your real-world career. In contrast, project-based academic work (and certainly old-school memorization-based assignments) can be hit or miss. There’s no substitute for firsthand experience; bonus points if you can get your hands dirty in the process.

They Can Push You Into Fulfilling, Meaningful Careers

Most internships don’t turn into full-time jobs, let alone meaningful careers. But sometimes they do. My final internship at NYU, with Citigroup, led directly to my first post-graduation job at the company.

The connection doesn’t have to be so direct to be beneficial. A few months in a particular internship or externship environment should be enough to confirm that you thrive — or flounder — in similar environments. For example, you might have been stoked to work for a big nonprofit you’d heard nothing but good things about, only to realize from firsthand experience that corporate nonprofits might be too stifling and risk-averse for your taste.

Experiences like this can help you narrow down your post-graduation career options and save you valuable time when you’re actually looking for a job.

“Your Network Is Your Net Worth”

You’ve probably heard this before. Maybe it sounds a bit cheesy to you; it does to me. But for better or worse, it’s true. The greatest value-add in any given extracurricular activity lies in the relationships you form in the process. Sometimes, it’s down to the specific people you meet, like a future boss, mentor, or founding partner.

Don’t pass up those opportunities. Make the extra effort to know your fellow participants and connect with the people in charge. It could pay off later on.

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Kapish Haldia

Kapish Haldia is a firm believer in beginning his days early and completing his “to-do” list by lunchtime.