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Internships: Student Perspective

  • Successful internships often lead to full-time employment in your field of choice, many times with the company that hired you as an intern. The 2012 Internship & CO-OP Survey conducted by The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) shows that emphasis on hiring from intern programs is growing. Employers reported that nearly 58.6 percent of the new college graduates they hired from the Class of 2011 came from their own internship programs.
  • Internships provide a competitive edge to job-seekers after graduation because many employers look for candidates with relevant work experience. In a study of more than 4,000 employers by The Internship Bible, prior work experience (most achieved through internships), was cited as the third most important hiring characteristic. The only traits ranked higher than previous work experience were attitude and communication skills.
  • Because your internship experience will generally be tied to your academic discipline, supervised by a faculty member, and sponsored by a qualified practitioner, you will gain greater understanding of the knowledge being imparted in the classrooms.
  • Placement in business environments provides the opportunity to observe professionals in a work setting, and gain valuable social skills, confidence and career insights as you experience the corporate culture and the office climate. You will also be provided with additional networking opportunities in order to obtain a job upon graduation.
  • Interns typically have more freedom to make mistakes. Employers don't expect as much from an intern as they do a new hire and are willing to overlook "small" judgments in error. Hopefully, interns can learn from their mistakes and be a better future employee as a result.
  • Every student would prefer to be paid for an internship situation. However, a future employer who reads your resume is more interested in the internship experience than with how much or if you were paid. An advantage to an unpaid internship is that you typically have more control over the workload and hours which could be important if you are trying to incorporate an internship into an already over-crowded schedule. Also an unpaid internship one semester could lead to a paid one the next. Factors affecting your chances of acquiring a paying internship include your GPA, previous leadership experience, and/or having a personal reference to an individual or organization.
  • It is much easier to obtain an internship if you can identify areas in which you exhibit leadership and responsibility in existing and prior experiences. This would include volunteer work and involvement in student organizations. Many employers rank this higher than GPA in hiring priorities. If you are having trouble obtaining an internship, spend the semester volunteering or getting involved in leadership and school organizations to enhance your hiring potential for the next semester.
  • Even if an internship is not approved for college credit, it is still an important part of your overall college experience and will increase your chances of securing future employment. Not receiving academic credit should not be a deterrent to accepting an internship opportunity if made available to you.