Essay - Why Internships Are Important

                                                                                            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.

The Importance of Internships

So you think because you are graduating from a top private university you will get a job without a problem, right? Think again. With this economy, some top graduates of Harvard can't even get a job. Ok ok, maybe they will. But what about us? The people who did not have the opportunity to go to Harvard can get great jobs, too. But how do we get jobs after graduating? More and more employers say real world experience is the key to getting a job. So how do you get real world experience? I have one word for ya: Internship.

Dr. Randall S. Hansen, Webmaster of Quintessential Careers states, Internships are one of the best ways for college students to get that experience. So I know what your thinking, Oh, I get an internship and I run errands for people all day and get them coffee, nothing but grunt work, right? Not entirely. Think of it this way. You might get to assist an ad agency with a commercial, or write for a web site or a broadcasting station or even learn behind the scenes activities of running a corporation. Whatever you do, no matter how small, you will get an inside look at a real life job, giving you an edge during job hunting. The idea of an internship is looking better isn't it? And in the words of George Bush or Porky Pig, that's not all, folks. Here are some other reasons to get an internship.

Not only do you get hands on experience in an office setting and become part of a team, but you will also gain a valuable knowledge in your field of study. For example, I bet Sean P Diddy Combs internship for the New York-based Uptown Records gave him an opportunity to sharpen his quality of work and enhance some of his habits, right? By working in an office setting you can put to work all the knowledge you learned in a classroom and improve on your oral and written communication and leadership skills.

Internships also give you the opportunity to gain some self-confidence. Figure out what your strengths are and really shine. It is also a good time to identify your weaknesses so they too can become stronger. In fact, in the interview section there is a list of possible questions asked by the interviewer. Question number three asks, What's your greatest strength? The advice on how to answer that is easy, The idea is not to just talk about your strengths--relate it to the position. There is a bunch of great advice on the website, fish around and take notes, that is what I did when I applied for this internship.

College is an amazing place to learn self-reliance and independence. An internship is a great place to use those qualities. At the same time, college is a great place for procrastination. Lets not deny it, most of my friends cannot get a paper done unless they start the day before it is due (not a good habit to get into- but it works). An internship will help you get back that motivation that you might have thrown out the third-story dorm window you live in.

Earlier I said an internship is a great opportunity to improve oral and written communication skills. This is important because most of us are not used to interacting with a diverse population. You might meet lawyers, police officers, politicians, extremely rich people, not so rich people, hippies, rock stars, circus folk, teachers, and even other interns. Each person might be different in their language, their personality, and their profession. Interacting with people will teach you more about real world experiences faster than anything.

The last thing I would like to talk about is your ability to really let your career begin at this point. Just think, no more classes, no more papers to write, no more tests to study for. This is it, how exciting! Look at this as an opportunity to work with the company full-time after the completion of the internship. Even if you don not work with that particular company, think of all the networking you can accomplish and all of the contacts you will meet. Focus on gaining an edge and keeping yourself in the job market. Keep in mind of how this is a chance to build your resume. Think of how this is, more than anything, an experience or just one milestone in your life. In an e-mail from Dr. Randall Hansen, he said to me, "an internship... it is often a great experience, it helps you decide your major/career path, and employers love to see a resume with internships on it."

So look out your window and locate that motivation that you threw out so long ago. It might be on a cloud or the rooftop of another house or it might even have landed on your window sill. Once you found it, hold on to it really tight and start your search for the perfect internship for you.

And do not worry, I am not leaving you hangin. You are probably wondering how to take the first step. Well, ever heard of It's obviously the best web site out there! But check out The Riley Guide - Internships. At this site you will find information that's just right for you.

You can also visit:

There are some other places, as well. Check out the Career Center at your school or even in individual departments. Ask around. There are also Job Fairs that introduce you to a number of companies. Just as you are looking for them, they are looking for you. So why are you still reading? Go get your self some coffee, because it might be the last time you get it for yourself and begin your search.


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