The Pursuit of an Internship: Does It Really Matter?
By Gennae Hinson – MA, Higher Education
Director, College of Science and Math, Career Services – Montclair State University
In today‘s competitive job market, the college graduate with an exceptional cover letter, stellar grade point average, and glowing recommendations may not be enough if one critical component is missing from the résumé…experience. The internship experience is one of the most important criterion a student can include when trying to build a strong foundation for a successful career. So as one considers making a college choice, try not to solely focus on residential living, how the campus food taste or latest happenings on the weekend, instead focus on what the college career center has to offer to assist you with your career planning.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2014 Internship and Cooperative Education (Co-op) Survey, internship hiring is expected to increase by one-third. Internship and Co-op programs are a great way for employers to identify highly motivated and qualified new hires, and gain short term talent to assist with projects to meet workplace goals. Internships allow students to engage in meaningful on-the job learning experiences which prepare them for the workplace. Employers hiring recent college graduates want to see applicable work experience and qualifications to fulfill their needs. As a result, more employers are relying on internship programs as an effective recruiting tool. NACE (2014) pointed out that employers will hire approximately 50 percent of their new college hires from their internship and Co-op programs. This demonstrates value that employers place on hiring interns, but the employers are not the only ones who benefit from internships.
Experience gained through an internship can help students synthesize career occupations, leverage employment opportunities, develop employer contacts, and gain useful experience that give them an edge in a competitive marketplace. Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships on their résumé have a much better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation.
Completing at least one internship prior to graduation will not only help students ease their job search, but will allow them to hone skills that are marketable. Skills that students develop during the internship such as communication, analytical, problem-solving, and leadership will impress potential employers and are essential to the student finding the job they want after college. Therefore, students should be encouraged to begin their career planning early and an internship should be considered as a “must have” experience.
To find out more about internship and career building opportunities, students are strongly encouraged to visit a career services or guidance counselor for more assistance.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). NACE 2014 Internship and Co-op Survey: Research Brief. Bethlehem, PA.