The Importance of Internships
Growing up in school, students are constantly reminded that a college education is necessary to make a decent salary. Over the years, it has become evident to many young adults that this statement is indeed true. However, as the need for jobs increases, so does the necessity of being more competitive in a work field. Since our generation has grown up knowing that graduating from college is a necessity, a college education is no longer enough to be competitive in the job market; therefore, our generation has given birth to a new requirement to find the right job after college.
This requirement is known as an internship. Despite the fact that not many internship programs pay their students, an internship is an essential element for a student’s career in today’s society. The skills and opportunities attained after having participated in an internship program definitely outweigh any downside to any part of the program.
College is a place where students become prepared for many aspects of life. Pastor Ricky Torres made the following statement on night bus once: “You must be ready for moments in your life where preparation and opportunity cross paths. If you’re not prepared, you will miss great opportunities that only come by once.”
One aspect in life which must be well prepared is networking. The more contacts a person has, the higher the chances of that person getting what he needs. “College internships are a resource and the ultimate social network.”1 When a student joins an internship program, he is joining a nexus of connections that will last him for a lifetime. “Internships are mutual beneficial relationships.” 2 The intern gets an opportunity to look into the real world pertaining to his career, while the employer gets a chance to look for the brightest and hardest working members in the program. Many times in life, it doesn’t necessarily come down to “how much you know” but “who you know”. Internships provide the chance to get to know many important people in the area that best interest a student.
Internships secure a successful way to find employment. For example, the majority of the young men that graduate from Hyles-Anderson College end up interning for their home pastors. Interns return home and eventually become Music Directors, Assistant Pastors, School Teachers, or Bus Directors. However, most of these interns usually receive little to no pay at all when they first begin working for their home church. This is indeed one of the most criticized downsides to many internship programs. Nearly 50% of all Internships in the U.S are unpaid and 85% of graduates are actually willing to intern for free.3
Critics believe that colleges and companies are constantly pushing students to join internship programs because these companies save millions of dollars annually by “hiring” interns. Although this may be true, most graduates that enter an intern program finish the internship receiving a highly coveted job offer. In the other hand, a great number of graduates that don’t have the tool of an internship network usually leave college and cannot find a job. These graduates put up with having to wander from one job to another while the jobs usually have nothing to do with their field of study. Students who are willing to sacrifice a couple months of salary usually end up winning because they find a well-fitting and well-paid job in the end.
Most internships equip members with necessary experience in their field of study. “The dilemma new graduates most often face is that they’ve got fine academic training but no hard experience.” 4 Employers usually look for applicants who have hands-on experience. When very few people are willing to take the risk of hiring a complete rookie, internship programs are designed for this matter. Internships provide students with great experience and references to add to their resumes.
Graduates are also able to add themselves to a real work force without having to engage in commitment with a company or an employer. That itself is enough to relieve unnecessary stress on anyone! Not only are these programs beneficial for interns, but for employers as well. Companies can be sure that interns are dedicated and truly interested in the field that they are working in.
There are many people who are currently working in fields where they never thought they would work. Their plans in life didn’t work out the way they wanted and they are now living under what they once labeled “Plan B”. A good example of this can be found in a chapter from the book To Become a Teacher. “When I asked why he wanted to teach and, more specifically, why he wanted to teach young children, the young man quickly responded.
“Oh, I’ve always heard that its good to pick up some teaching credits. The early childhood education program looked doable [easy enough, I quickly interpreted] with my engineering courses. Anyway, if all else fails,” he continued, “I could always fall back on teaching.”… How I wish that this young man’s story was an exception…” 5 Internships are a way to prevent situations like these. Employers can see who really wants to work in a department and if they can’t find anyone fit for the job, they can at least see who has the potential and who doesn’t. A person who doesn’t intern after college is truly missing out on a chance to take his career on a test-run.
Internships are indeed excellent and rewarding ways to gain hands-on experience. Interns have the opportunity to meet and network with many people who will provide help and references along their career. Although internship programs may not always pay their students, today’s competitive work force demands graduates to be highly equipped for their work field. The skills and opportunities attained from an internship program are innumerable. If anyone is struggling to decide which internship to join, they should see their school advisor or simply research online. Great opportunities for success are definitely available, the question is: “How competitive do graduates want to be?”.