How can research experience be best used to get an internship?
It sounds correct. However, most students get their research experience through internships (Summer Jobs).
If you are able to do some real research with a professor led group at college while a sophomore, it should make getting an internship that following Summer easy. However, if you are that good, you would merely continue to work with the Professor's research group that following Summer, correct?
Undergrad Research is valued everywhere. It shows your enthusiasm toward achieving an indefinite goal, on which you are investing your time to learn, and apply many concepts.
So if, I have to offer an internship and see a research experience for the same field. I have then no reason to reject you!