HomeEducational StagesInternshipPlan for Internships as a College Applicant

Plan for Internships as a College Applicant

Sara Bowling’s first internship as a college student taught her an important lesson about what she did not want to do in her career.

“I discovered in that internship that I really liked the HR aspect of it. The social work aspects just really weren’t for me,” says Bowling, who is now 24.

After that experience, she tacked on a second major in employment and labor relations to complete an integrated Bachelor of Science-Master of Science degree that focused more on human resources.

Bowling also continued to gain more work experience. When she graduated in 2016, she had a bachelor’s and master’s degree, plus two more internships on her resume.

She says these additional internships confirmed that she had made the right adjustments to her career goals. “They also helped me narrow down what parts of HR I liked and what parts I didn’t,” she adds.

The number of internships students complete during college, plus their GPA, are major factors that influence career outcomes for graduates, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers October report.

Experts vary on what, if any, is an optimal number of internships to have, but some say two internships before graduation is a safe bet.

“If the student can get two to three internships, that’s going to make them more marketable,” says Terese King, director for the academic success and career center at Washington State University.

Students’ colleges and universities can play a strong role in whether they find internships. Career experts say prospective college students who want to ensure that the schools they are considering will help them with internships should speak with admissions directors or career services experts. Here are three questions to ask.

1. What internship support do you offer students? “Some majors and departments require students to do an internship, and they have it built right into the curriculum,” says King. “That’s a very supportive way for a student to complete a four-year program with an internship built right in.”

Internship requirements also speaks to how much a department values career development, she says.

Other majors or departments, she says, may encourage students to secure internships but have a less structured way for helping them find one.

Prospective students should think about how universities are organized to support career exploration and hands-on experience, experts say.

Bob Orndorff, senior director of career services at Penn State, says schools should ideally have an internship coordinator for every major to help students meet their career goals.

2. What on-campus recruiting opportunities are available? Prospective students can ask about on-campus recruitment to learn about a school’s career fairs and those tailored for students looking for internships, says Orndorff.

Many universities may have one large campuswide career fair each semester, as well as on-campus interviewing that’s arranged within a department.

Career experts encourage prospective students to inquire about how a university engages with employers and brings them to campus to meet students.

3. How does career services prepare students to speak with employers? College applicants should research how hands-on a school is when it comes to coaching students on choosing a career and presenting themselves to employers, experts say.

Bowling, from Penn State, says she took a class through the university’s career center that taught her about conducting informational interviews and attending career fairs, as well as assessing her own interests to determine a career. “It was really good just to kind of learn a little bit more about yourself,” she says.

At Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, newly admitted students are given an assessment to complete before orientation that helps them identify their strengths, says Rocky Campbell, director of the career center at the college. At orientation, students discuss developing their strengths and later, in a required seminar, they discuss developing their future, he says.

“They all come visit the career center to learn directly about our services,” he says.

When students are guided through the career exploration process, they can have a significant boost in landing an internship, experts say. And the right internship can set them up for a salaried position after college.

“It can then lead to full-time employment,” says King.

Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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