Internships are considered an important part of the college experience because, for all the learning in the classroom, practical experience is often the best way to learn. Saint Augustine’s University, like most colleges, requires an internship to graduate in all majors of study.
Not only do internships give students a feel for what their intended career field may be like; they also teach students real-world skills such as time management, dressing professionally and networking. Those skills are considered valuable by employers and that is one reason internships increase chances for employment after college. As an added benefit, some internships are paid and allow students to earn a little spending money.
For me, as a second semester junior in college, internships are the starting point for career goals and overall goal setting. Before transferring this year to SAU, I attended Wake Technical Community College, where I earned my Associate in Arts Degree. I interned during my second year as a student ambassador for career and employment services; other than a summer job it was my first real career experience.
The first thing I learned was how to take advantage of the college’s career coaching program and career center. I also learned to network. I met many professionals in my field with whom I continue to keep contact.
In that position, I assisted students of a variety of age groups to navigate curriculum and workforce database systems, distributed flyers for student outreach and helped increase the visibility of the career program on campus through coordinating advertising.
This hands-on experience made me feel even more comfortable with public speaking and interpersonal communication skills. I had already made plans to transfer after earning my degree to continue at a four-year institution to study Mass Communications. However, the motivation that I received from the career center led me to my future goal of wanting to own a business of my own to help other young people like myself choose their career path and attend college.
As I continue my education here at SAU, the importance and effectiveness of internships have continued for me. This semester I have been interning with a small business called Skyport Drones, a company that uses drones to increase the selling rate for real estate property and marketing for companies. I have gained experience with posting daily information on social media to inform and advertise consumers on services offered. I also have become familiar with apps and software including Hootsuite, Mail Chimp, Canva, and I have gained insight on working on a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management). CRM is an overall business management platform that utilizes cloud computing software applications to provide increased networking.
Even though the internship was not paid I was able to pick up skills that are transferable to any job and career, especially in the communications field.
As a college student, I have learned that the more experience, the better. Many employers want at least five years of experience, especially for managerial and leadership positions. Internships are a great way to get a headstart and gain that experience while still in college.
You should even consider taking an internship after graduation. You may be able to work your way up to a position of full employment with the company.
Scholars have concluded that internships may be the best thing a student can do to secure future employment and to build a foundation for a career. An article from by Akanksha Budha entitled, “Importance of internship” published on myRepublia.com on April 4, 2017 includes a variety of reasons college students should intern. The author Budha wrote, “While working as an intern, you learn to become a guru in managing timetables as you get accustomed to working in fast-paced professional environments. Time management is vital in every circumstance whether you’re attending meetings, finishing a task on deadlines.”
In my experience – which includes living off-campus while attending college and participating in work-study – I have found that time management is key. Homework has to be scheduled – even rest and relaxation needs to be planned.
Another article by Carmen McCollum entitled, “College internships are critical to future success” and published in nwitimes on March 23, 2017 concludes that colleges realize the importance of students having at least one internship during their college career. McCollum wrote, “Sharese Dudley-Mora, director of Career Services at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, says internships are critical to a student’s success and makes them more marketable.”
Marketing and self-branding as a college student is highly important. If no one knows who you are, it can be hard to create connections with others. Internships teach you that having something as simple as a LinkedIn account can increase employment results.
Exposing students to practical experience is helpful even at the elementary school level – that is why Montessori schools, which take a hands-on approach to learning, are the number one choice for many parents. Students can gain hands-on experience while in high school, earn college credit, and get an early start on learning more about possible career choices.
When students reach the college level, most instructors, parents, and students themselves agree that internships are highly important. So if you have not had an internship yet, I highly recommend that you begin looking for and pursuing those opportunities.
By Jazmin Powell