June 22, 2011
|Jessica Spiegel (Class of 2012) interns at Discovery Communications.|
As the years to graduation drift past one by one, the idea of entering a competitive job market can be a little daunting. A strong GPA and good interviewing skills are important, but today’s graduates are learning that it takes real-world experience and contacts in the business world to land a job. Now, more than ever, internships are making the path from graduation to gainful employment a little less rocky. So, it’s no surprise that, according to U.S. News & World Report, 36.8 percent of graduates take part in an internship at some point during their studies.
“I hope to gain great experience in an area that I am passionate about (advertising/media) as well as begin setting up a network of associates that will become increasingly important as I search for future employment,” explained Connor Neve (Class of 2013) of his AOL Canada internship in Toronto. He’s one of 53 students enrolled in the Academic Internship Program through the Office of Academic Internships.
Over the summer, these interns will receive academic credit in a nine-week course involving reflection assignments, performance evaluations, and participation in Blackboard discussions with other interns. “They start by establishing five learning objectives and these guide their experiences,” explained Director of Academic Internships Lisa Johnson. “Throughout the internship they will work towards achieving those objectives.”
For over 20 years, the program has gotten students to reflect on their experiences and report back on their progress, achievements and challenges. “It gets them critically thinking and problem solving,” Johnson said.
Choosing from hundreds of paid and unpaid internship opportunities, the students worked with Rollins Career Services in the spring to find positions and apply for them. By June, they were reporting for duty at their new summer job, hoping to learn more about a career they might someday like to have.
“I joined the Rollins newspaper last fall and discovered that I enjoy journalistic writing and editing. This summer, I decided to give up my search for a paying job and instead contacted my local newspaper office for an unpaid internship,” shared Julia Campbell (Class of 2013). Campbell will be interning for GateHouse Media New England writing for the Scituate and Marshfield Mariners on the south shore of Massachusetts. “It is exciting to spend the summer doing something I love and getting published in widely circulating newspapers every week.”
Jessica Spiegel (Class of 2012) is interning at Discovery Communications in Silver Spring, MD, as the corporate communications intern. “I have always been a fan of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, etc., and I really wanted to work for a media company to gain insight in public relations and event planning. Being the corporate communications intern sounded great,” said Spiegel. “After the first two weeks, I have already learned so much and have had the chance to be team leader for an event.”
With graduation just two semesters away, Spiegel joins thousands of students who are hoping their internship will translate into a full-time job offer in the not so distant future. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), new college graduates who participated in internships did far better in the job market than their classmates who did not have that experience. In 2008 employers extended job offers to nearly 70 percent of their interns, up from 57 percent in 2001. Responding employers also indicated that while only 31 percent of their new employees came from their own internship programs, 62 percent had internship experience of some kind.
For Tracy Waguespack (Class of 2012), her internship hasn’t taken her too far from Rollins but it’s given her the opportunity to do things most students never experience. This environmental studies major is working at the Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, FL. “I pursued the internship after my biosphere class took a field trip to the park. I got in contact with the boss and we made the arrangements to make the site official for Rollins.”
Waguespack is currently working on a few long-term projects at the park including turning cattails into ethanol, collecting and identifying plant species to mount and display, and working on an educational display for the education center at the park. “My daily tasks include water sampling, assisting with de-mucking different parts of the wetlands, park maintenance, wildlife monitoring (including alligator egg collection in July), and monitoring water flow through the park,” she shared. “I hope to learn new things in the field and get a feel for what a ‘real job’ will be like.”
Real-world experience is something you’ll often hear these students talk about – many of whom are excited about test-driving a career for the summer before narrowing their academic focus on the real thing. “Although I am an international business student, I have also had a passion for writing and am considering pursuing a career in journalism,” said Hayley Mackiernan (Class of 2011). “This summer I am interning at two companies–Ivanhoe Broadcast News and Parenting Magazine–and the experience and exposure I am getting at both of these corporations is very beneficial and exciting.”
And of course, students like Connor Neve are attracted by the chance to see what it really feels like to work 40 hours a week. “In addition to the experience and the connections, I hope to gain a better understanding of how the working-world actually operates,” said Neve. “Being in a downtown office from 9 to 5 every day has already opened my eyes to a plethora of different lifestyles and career paths that were previously unknown to me. Although I may not establish exactly where I'd like to see myself in five years, I’m gaining a better idea of where I belong in the workforce.”
While many students choose to spend their summers sleeping in or heading to the beach, these ambitious Rollins students are opting to build their resumes and expand their network, a move that all but guarantees job-finding success after graduation.By Kristen Manieri