If you’ve ever sought out career advice from a professional on or off campus, chances are you heard the all too familiar phrase, “You need an internship,” fired back at you.
Shouldn’t a degree from an accredited university be enough of a ticket to snag a job post-graduation?
The National Association of Colleges and Employers found that the professional experience gained through internships and co-op/work-study is more important than having been a recent graduate, although the latter is also expected.
According to the 2014 report, “among those in the class of 2014 who received a job offer prior to graduation, less than 38.6 percent did not have any internship experience and 80 percent of employers view recruiting as a primary function of internships.”
While listing a degree from a 4-year university on your resume shows that you know how to be a good student, having an internship or two under your belt proves to future employers that you’re capable of translating the material learned in the classroom into real world applications in the workforce.
Not only are internships important for professional networking and finding the right career path, they prove that you are able to take your future into your own hands.
Matthew Trujillo, a sophomore communication major, worked for Career Services at California Lutheran University and expressed the value of seeking advice from professionals and career experts on campus.
“I can see how the general population would say it’s difficult to find and land an internship,” Trujillo said. “A lot of people would come in [to Career Services] and be like ‘you need to help me find a job, I need these intern credits to graduate’, but [Career Services] doesn’t dish out jobs. One of my roles while working there was to help people find the job or internship in the first place.”
Trujillo said that asking for help in finding an internship and refining your skills will help in “finding the job that works for you,” with the desire to gain experience in the real world.
But not all internships are the same. With the daily balancing act of coursework, extracurriculars and social lives, I question if adding an unpaid internship is actually worth the time and effort on top of preexisting commitments.
According to a report by Burning Glass published by US News, students who have had a paid internship are more likely to receive a job offer after completion of the experience than those whose internship was unpaid.
“65.4 percent of the class of 2014 who had completed a paid internship at a for-profit company received a job offer prior to graduation. In contrast, only 39.5 percent of students who had unpaid internships received a job offer, slightly higher than the offer rate for students with no internship experience at all (38.6 percent),” according to the report.
The value of an unpaid internship is subjective to the student applying for it, and may come down to the interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The U.S. Labor Department states that an unpaid internship is only legal if “the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.”
They can help you gain marketable skills like communication, organization and problem-solving that goes beyond what is learned in a classroom environment.
Internships of all pay levels are out there, it’s just about asking for help in finding the one that is the best fit for you and your learning objectives.
Students should not underestimate or disregard the value of an internship because a degree from a university is not enough to snag a job after graduation. The promise of a job after college outweighs the temporary stress.