Graduation is a thrilling thought—a true mixture of terror and excitement. It means entering the real world. Andrew Gonzales, community engagement and partnership coordinator at the Center for Internships and Community Engagements, encourages students to consider academic internships to make the transition from the classroom to the real world a little smoother.
Why are internships even important?
While some majors require internships before graduation, many majors don’t. Either way, it’s important for students to recognize the importance of internships early in their undergraduate careers.
“The primary issue is not unemployment but underemployment, which means an employee is over qualified for the job that they have, underpaid because of their skillset, or they’re working in an area not related to their degree,” Gonzales said.
The marketplace has become oversaturated with qualified workers.
If there are two job openings at any business, and 500 (or more) qualified candidates, employers are going to weed out anyone who doesn’t already have experience.
Why train someone when you can hire another person who already has the skills you want?
Well, how can I get one if I don’t have any experience?
Academic internships welcome students with little to no experience. Their goal is for students and employers to form a mentor-mentee relationship in which the student gains a valuable learning experience, Gonzales said.
They key to getting an internship lies in resumes and job interviews, even for inexperienced applicants.
“It’s all an artform. There’s no necessarily standard way to do things. There’s no formula for it,” Gonzales said. “In the end, it’s how you’re able to provide the evidence that shows you have the skill set necessary to be successful in that job.”
Gonzales recommends functional resume formatting for students with little to no experience. Functional resume formatting focuses on skills rather than work experience. This can include community service, volunteer work, club projects, or anything that can be built up to show an employer a desirable skill set.
Does an internship guarantee me a job?
Academic internships don’t guarantee jobs, but can lead to one if a student plays their cards right.
“Students need to recognize that their job is not simply to do a good job,” Gonzales said.
When looking to rehire, employers are looking for interns who seek opportunities beyond assigned tasks, and demonstrate an adventurous personality and an outgoing disposition, Gonzales said.
If you’re an introvert like me, don’t be scared off.
It simply means that you’re able to show an employer that you appreciate the opportunity to try new things.
Gonzales said a good start to going beyond assigned tasks is asking other people in the workplace “is there anything that you’d like for me to do?”
Having a grateful and supportive role in the office reflects on an intern’s ability to maintain office morale and is a good step towards a future job.