The importance of internships
Finding a job as a recent college graduate can be daunting and overwhelming. Unfortunately, according to an article on Forbes.com, the common factor in student applicant rejections in 2013 was that the applicant did not have enough job experience, which is where internships come in.
According to Internships.com, polled in late 2012, more than 7,300 current students and recent graduates were offered full-time jobs after participating in an internship related to their particular field.
In many fields, employers favor prospective employees who have participated in at least one internship. According to Forbes.com, an internship has become the “new interview” in the job search process.
Associate Vice President of the Professional Edge Center Corey Wilson said that an internship makes what students learn in the classrooms concrete by placing the students in a real-life work situation with co-workers performing actual professional tasks that the job entails.
According to Wilson, getting an internship gives students a chance to test-run the employment they may be considering and also lets them explore what they like and do not like about their career field.
“I am always a proponent for getting students real-world experience,” Wilson said. “And everyone on campus does a great job with preparing the students with what it is going to take academically, and combining that with an internship is a win-win for the students.”
According to an article on Monstr.com, in addition to providing life-experience, participating in an internship also helps students establish references and acquire organizational skills.
According to Internships.com, the odds that a student will find a job after graduation increases. In many majors, an internship is more than just a recommendation, it is a requirement for graduation. According to Associate Professor of Art & Design Julia Taugner, you can earn credits toward your degrees.
“If the students go through me for the internship, because I am the internship coordinator, and the students meet all the requirements for the internship they can receive academic credit,” she said. “But students are welcome to search for internships on their own, however. If it doesn’t go through me, then the students won’t get academic credit, and we require students to have three academic internship credits before graduation.”
According to Taugner, the job market is incredibly competitive in graphic design, so requiring an internship benefits the students greatly. However, the department did not always require students to complete an internship before graduation.
“When I was first hired here [UIndy], after a few years I decided they [internships] should only be recommended. However, I had some difficulty in convincing students that they needed to do internships,” Taugner said. “And after a few years I thought, our field graphic design or any of the arts is competitive, and it [getting an internship] is a big advantage in terms of the transition into employment and so I made the decision to make it required again.”
According to Taugner, students do have to apply and interview like any other job. Taugner explained that when the internships were only recommended many students opted out from applying and out of fear.
“It has been good requiring the students to get an internship,” she said. “Some students you know, were simply not doing an internship out of nerves, so once its required [the internship] students get over their internal battles and just do it.”
According to Taugner, when finding jobs in the graphic design field, an internship is an expectation.
“In this job market, it is an expectation at least in graphic design to get an internship so the students are at a disadvantage a bit if they do not get an internship,” she said. “So, that’s why we require them. It is extremely competitive.”
Wilson said that when applying for an internship,students need to remember that their resumes and portfolios are the first impressions employers will have of them. He said preparing a resume is like preparing a selfie—the perfect angle is required to make it just right.
“It doesn’t hurt to get a second pair of eyes to look at their resumes because that is what is the first appearance the employers will have of you,” he said.
Wilson said, ProEdge will host a communication and job fair event for students interested in networking with potential employers on April 4. UIndy also provides a list of open internships in various career fields through Handshake, UIndy’s online job portal.
“On Handshake, there are about 858 internships that are listed,” Wilson said. “I recommend students look on Handshake and apply for internships that spark their curiosity and internships that they will be passionate about and an internship students are inquisitive about and wanting to learn from.”
Students interested in applying for an internship are welcome to set up an appointment with ProEdge or with an internship coordinator in their department to get one-on-one coaching in order to help them navigate potential job and internship opportunities.