The Importance of Internships
“You’d be working for FREE?”
That was my dad’s reaction when I first told him about my search for an internship. Pretty understandable, right? When my dad was younger and applying for jobs, having a college degree was enough to be ahead of the competition. However, with the amount of college educated people entering the workforce today that is just not enough anymore.
Employers are well aware that textbooks can only go so far. Participating in an internship, a part-time job, or even a study abroad trip is imperative in standing out among other candidates.
“How do I survive without getting paid?”
While there are internships that are paid, usually depending on what industry you’re going into, many are unpaid. It is understandable to have hesitation about working for free, but don’t let it be the deciding factor because there are ways around it. I acquired two unpaid internships during my college career, but I still managed to make enough money to get by.
My sophomore year of college I started working part-time in student housing, so I was able to have a little income every week. I’m an Integrated Marketing Communications major, so I was able to relate some of the marketing and sales experience I gained from that job to what I plan to pursue in a future career. That was a major bonus.
One summer I stayed in Oxford and continued my part-time job while working a part-time public relations internship at the local arts council, which I earned a college credit for. Score. Additionally, this current semester, I am a public relations intern at 662 Marketing, and I babysit 3-5 days a week to put some cash in my pocket.
Through those experiences, I have had the chance to learn first-hand about the industry I am pursuing, while gaining skills that have increased my marketability when applying to jobs. The networks I have built through my experiences are irreplaceable, and at the very least I now have great references.
Parents, encourage your students starting freshman year to begin bulking up their resume. Summer jobs, internships, study abroad trips and even volunteer opportunities are all great ways to gain new experiences and learn valuable information to leverage the competition.
Pro Tip: Most schools within the college have a career page of some sort that provides information on relevant available jobs and internships. The Career Center in Martindale Hall is also a great resource for help with resumes, interviews, etc!