Graduating college with a degree in hand, prepared to make a mark on the world, but cannot land a job. This is the experience of a decent portion of college graduates as it is no secret that the job market is tough to break into. To beef up resumes and increase the likelihood of getting their foot in the door, students are advised to take on internships. Internships are positions fulfilled by those interested in learning about a trade in a professional setting. Interns are not considered full-time employees at their place of business, but more so rather as apprentices who are often times unpaid.
Starting off, internship positions are not always with a person’s dream company, but with any place of business that enables them to gain experience in their field. Interns have the added benefit of getting a feel of a given occupation outside of the technical know-how. Even though a student may be under the assumption that what they are earning their degree for is the career they wish to go into, things can change. Once an individual gets a taste of their possible career, they can either decide if it is the right career for them, or if they should change their career path. Blanca Rosales-Ahn, career coordinator of the career development and advancement center [CDA], shares some words of advice for those beginning to embark on the internship search, “Try to focus on what you want, [and] make it work for you.”
Depending on an individual’s major, some students do not have to worry about finding an internship on their own being as how certain colleges have internships built-in to their curriculum, such has education majors. But the majority of students must take the initiative in this process. Regardless of major, all students have the opportunity to take on an internship while earning credits. Every college at Kean University has their own procedure when it comes to internships, and students are advised to speak to their advisors concerning the requirements. Rosales-Ahn would like to emphasize that the CDA does not place students into internship positions, they merely assist students with the process and “work collaboratively with separate departments.”
A mistake students sometimes make is disregarding the minor details of internships. According to Rosales-Ahn, the most common step forgotten is that “there’s a lot of paperwork involved.” Rosales-Ahn recommends that students begin looking and applying for internships two semesters prior to the time they are interested in interning. Most of the time, “companies begin looking for interns well in advanced. We have some seniors come in who want to tackle on an internship, and it’s too late because the process is already over” clarifies Rosales-Ahn.
Students have the potential of being offered full-time positions during the course of their internships. According to National Association of Colleges and Employers [NACE], approximately 36 percent of employers hired employees that were participants of their internship program. This is an added incentive for students; not only can they earn credits while partaking in an internship, but also the possibility of employment on the horizon following the internship. In concern to Kean University students, Rosales-Ahn reports that “a good portion of [Kean University] students” receive job offers from their place of internship.
A survey conducted by NACE discovered that when a company is looking to hire a new employee, 50 percent of employers look for an internship on an applicant’s resume when they graduate from college. Students partaking in an internship should “act as if it’s a full-time job…companies watch students and screen them [as potential hires] through their intern programs.” By interning, students are able to network, a process of making contacts within the chosen occupation. Networking can assist a person when he or she is in the process of finding a job. It is common for individuals to contact those he or she knows in hopes of them aiding them in some form, such as putting in a good word for them at a specific company. The way an intern handles themselves at the office will have an effect on those they wish to have in their networking web.
To land an internship, the first step is to search for internships in the given profession an individual is trying to enter. This can be done through the CDA in the Maxine and Jack Lane Center for Academic Success [CAS] room 123. The CDA strives for students to be successful in their chosen professions, and they assist students with finding internships, writing resumes and how to prepare for an interview, among other helpful tips. An individual’s resume plays a crucial role when applying for any level of employment. Students should pay a visit to CDA, where they will assist and critique student resumes so “[it] will give them leverage in the internship [process].” The CDA utilizes College Central Network [CCN], an online portal accessible to students. With CNN, students can upload a resume for potential employers, and search for open internships and job positions specifically available to Kean University students.
The purpose of an internship is to bridge the gap between school and work. Kean University offers its students courses that allow them to simultaneously earn credits while gaining work experience. What a student learns in the academic setting are the tools that will serve them best going into their career. While they may believe they possess all the knowledge in their anticipated trade, it is not until they are thrusted into the action of the workplace and utilizing those tools that they gain valuable experience and knowledge.
Make sure to stop by the CDA for more information in CAS room 123, or visit www.kean.edu/~career or www.CollegeCentral.com.