Claire is a senior at Iona College in New York where she is studying Journalism. She is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism and hopes to report hard hitting news stories. Claire is currently completing an internship with the Fox News Channel in New York City. In her spare time, Claire loves to read everything and anything, write constantly, and run for miles at a time.
The competitive job market today asks a lot from college students. Gone are the days where a student can walk the stage, and then get handed a job to begin their career. Instead college grads are expected to stand out from the crowd, and have prior experience in the field they would like to pursue. In other words a strong GPA is not enough. Extracurricular activities on campus are good, but they do not give true, real world experiences that employers are looking for. So how does a student get professional experience in their field? Internships.
When applying for jobs, most employers will not pay special attention to where you graduated from, or what your grades were like if you have no applied experience. Proving that you can do the work they are asking of you automatically gives you an advantage in the job market. Internships are your chance to stand out from the crowd.
Also, the expression “it’s all about who you know” is true. One can decide to spend endless amount of time on their own looking for jobs, but there is no doubt that having connections make the search easier. Internships offer connections. Once you begin an internship you constantly meet professionals who ultimately have the job that you want some day. If you excel during your internship, or even show that you have a strong work ethic, the people that you meet during your internship experience will take notice. Chances are they will know more people within the field, and can pass along references and contact information. In fact, they may even hire you themselves. In short, connections make everything easier.
Internships not only give college students impressive experience to add to their resume. They also give students a unique opportunity to validate that the field they are studying is really the path they would like to go down. Imagine beginning your first job out of college, and you realize that this job is not at all what you want to be doing. You would be stuck. Prior experience prevents this realization before it is too late. College is the time to figure what career path you want. Take advantage of that time, and discover what you want to do before it is too late to choose anything else. If you complete an internship and decide that the type of job is not for you, then you still have time to figure out what it is you want. You can always embark on a different internship. However if you decide that the work is something you love, then this gives even more of a competitive edge. Employers will also notice your enthusiasm and passion for the job.
Internships can be stressful for students. Juggling schoolwork and extracurricular activities on top of another job can no doubt be overwhelming. Often times they are unpaid and the reward does not seem clear. But hang in there. Internships may be a lot to add to a busy schedule, but they are what your future employers will look for. They are a college student’s chance to prove just exactly what they are worth.