by Susanne J. Grossman
The importance of an internship experience cannot be overstated. Today, employers favor prospective employees who have done not only one internship but multiple internships. A college education will serve to propel a graduate into a profession by conferring a degree, which demonstrates an academic proficiency in various theoretical and practical examples of ways that a job might be performed. An internship makes the classroom’s abstract theories and learned examples concrete by placing the student in a real life work situation with real live co-workers performing actual professional tasks, which the job encompasses.
Therefore, the payoff of an unpaid internship is that you will gain invaluable professional experience, where you might otherwise have none, your self-confidence and self-esteem grows, and statistics indicate that the percentage of the odds that you’ll be one of the people who finds a job easily dramatically increases, which after all is why you’re going to college in the first place. At all levels of your education, you can earn credits toward your degrees. Finally, your internship experience goes on your resume as professional experience.
When an employer is looking to increase efficiency and profitability how can she/he look to affect a positive change? Well, one way is to insure that new employees are knowledgeable and efficient in what they bring to the work place, maximizing time and integration into the present workplace. Another way is for the employer to try and augment their workforce with knowledgeable, energetic part-time staff. Third, an employer will want to ensure that their workplace remains fresh with new ideas and faces, allowing present employees to mentor and encourage young people entering their profession. Utilizing interns can be the answer to all of these positive driving forces.
What is involved in applying for, getting, and fulfilling the requirements for doing an internship may be easy for some and difficult for others. The reality is that it is a multifaceted endeavor to do all of the various aspects of pursuing an internship. An employer knows this and recognizes the inherent complexities of the experience. I believe, this is what makes students who have not only completed one, but several internships over the course of their education such attractive and desirable potential employees. Ideally, a student begins looking for an internship the semester before she/he wants to do the internship. The student will register for the credit bearing internship course at her/his college in case the internship requires that it be done for college credits.
Here at Queensborough the credit bearing internship class is called a Cooperative Education (Co-op) class. It is un-like most classes that a student will register for. It is an out of the classroom experience that the Faculty Coordinator of the Co-op class must register the student for. It is blocked or closed until the faculty member approves a student’s participation and then gives the student the code to register for it. The Faculty Coordinator, based on the requirements, which vary from department to department, student’s GPA and credits completed to date, is the person who will register a student for the class. (Check the catalog for the specific department you wish to do an internship in for the specific requirements related to these areas.) Most of the time, but not all, internships are unpaid and done for school credit toward the degree. The Co-op courses here at Queensborough are counted as electives, even though they must be related to the major field of study and the department in which the Cooperative Education class is done. If the student obtains a credit bearing internship then they are good to go ahead with the application process for the internship.
If the internship does not have to be done for credit, then the student can decide whether they want to keep the class and earn the credits or officially drop the class and just do the internship for the experience alone. The logic may seem elusive, but students must consider they can only do a maximum number of credits in internships. Here at Queensborough the maximum number of credits a student can do toward their Associate Degree is six (6) credits. So, if a student knows that they want to do additional internships and some of them must be done for credit and some don’t then they have to strategize to accomplish their individual goals and follow all of the rules and regulations of the school, the internship sponsors (the businesses,) and their own individual needs. In addition, the student must arrange their schedule to accommodate going to the internship site to fulfill the hours required to earn the credits. This is a brief overview of some of the facts which a student must consider and incorporate into successfully executing a credited internship experience. The student becomes invested in the internship process even before they show up for an interview or to do the internship. The employer is aware of this investment in the process and this is part of the reason they expect a student to do an internship for credit as opposed to just the experience without fulfilling any academic requirements.
An employer gets to see an intern in action on a day to day basis. Did the intern show up for “work” on time? Was the intern interested in the daily operations? Did the intern demonstrate proficiency in what they brought to the workplace and learn various new tasks easily? Did the intern show initiative to go above and beyond the call of duty? Was the intern a positive force in the workplace? These and many other questions are readily answered when an intern performs in an internship. These are questions an employer would love to have answered about every new employee they need to hire. Seeing these various qualities demonstrated in action is better than trying to ascertain them in an interview. So, if a job opens up at the workplace and an intern demonstrates skill in all of the job’s necessary duties and responsibilities, guess who’s going to get offered the job? The hardworking intern is.
An internship turning into a job is one of the best and rewarding outcomes of an internship. Not every, but many internships have the possibility of developing into full-time employment. The closer you are to the terminal point in your education, graduating, the likelier it is that an internship can develop into a full-time job. For example, let’s suppose that your career choice requires that you get your Doctorate Degree. Doing an internship in an area related to your curriculum when you’re pursuing your Associate Degree is a valuable experience. You can get credit toward your Associate Degree and the experience goes on your resume as professional experience. However, a student will in all likelihood not get offered the job you would get when you’ve earned either your Bachelor Degree or your Doctoral Degree. You may be offered a job that you would like to do while you’re continuing to go to school to get your advanced degrees, but you’re advanced degrees will be necessary to achieve your ultimate goals. During the pursuit of your Advanced Degrees you can do additional internships for credit, (following the outline and requirements of the degree conferring institution,) which in turn may also lead to other employment opportunities. While you’re a student this is an ongoing fluid situation offering enormous, exciting, and endless possibilities.
Your Associate Degree is a great beginning. Being able to earn practical experience and credit towards your degree is an exciting prospect that adds an additional virtual dimension to the educational process. No longer is simply a classroom education with a 4.0 GPA enough. Employers want to see the multi-dimensional thinking necessary to succeed in the very dynamic and ever-changing workplace. The process of to successfully applying, interviewing, obtaining, and fulfilling the responsibilities of an internship demonstrates an understanding and ability to sequence and carry out a complicated plan. The plan to do an internship in turn is perfect practice to finding a job. The process is virtually the same. Searching, planning, applying and doing; whether it’s an internship or a job the process is the same. The saying, “Practice makes perfect,” is directly relevant to the internship/job experience. If you have successfully carried out an internship you have all of the necessary skills to do the same for employment. When the time comes for you to seek and find your “Dream Job” you will be well prepared and groomed to get what you want in life.