College Internship

661 words | 3 page(s)

A successful internship is one that allows students to practically apply the lessons learnt in the classrooms at job. Such an internship teaches students how classroom learning prepares them for the real world. A successful internship also teaches students other skills that may not be related to their major but are, nonetheless, important for career advancements such as soft skills. Similarly, a successful internship helps students develop realistic expectations of life in the real world so that they are better prepared upon graduation.

College internships originated in the U.S. in the 1960s, 1970, and 1980s to teach students the knowledge and skills they may not have acquired in classrooms. Such internships also provided students with networking opportunities and increased job prospects upon graduation. Now internships have become an integral part of American college education system.

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There are different kind of internships such as paid, unpaid, cooperative learning, apprenticeship, mentoring, job shadowing, and practicums. Paid internship involves students getting paid while earning experience at the same time while unpaid internships involve students gaining experience without any financial compensation. Cooperative learning involves work experience that is related to the field of study being pursued by the student. Practicum involves students applying their academic learning in a real-world project. Students pursuing practicum may be under joint supervision of an employer and an academic advisor. Apprenticeships are usually internships of extensive duration, often into years in which the individual has the ability to earn income at an increasing rate over time while also gaining experience . Mentoring involves an experienced professional sharing his/her knowledge, career insights, skills, and experience with another person who may either be starting his/her career or pursuing career advancement opportunities. Job shadowing involves an individual spending time with a professional working in the field of interest. Job shadowing allows individuals to better work life and also provides them the opportunity to ask questions they may have .

College internships have both advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages of college internships is that it enables students to gain better understanding of the material learnt at college. Students also learn skills and gain knowledge that might not have been taught in classrooms. Similarly, students also get to observe the work environments and have more realistic expectations of work life upon graduation. Another benefit of college internship is that it improves job prospects upon graduation. First of all, students with internship experience are more appealing to employers because they are low-risk. Internships provide employers with an opportunity to see student’s performance and potential and even if the students end up working for a different employer, successful completion of internship increases the prospective employer’s confidence that he is hiring a quality candidate. One of the disadvantages of college internships is that there may be high opportunity costs, especially when internships don’t pay. Students already struggling with financial situation may further go into debt. Another disadvantage is that the internship may not adequately prepare the student for job or increase job prospects upon graduation . This risk is especially higher if the internship is unrelated to the field of study. It may also be that the student doesn’t end up liking the employer.

I believe most students take internships for granted because of the sheer number of internship opportunities, many of whom are unpaid. This is especially true for students who believe any internship works even if it may not be related to field of study or does not pay. The priority should be to obtain an internship that helps students better understand material learnt in class and also gives them more realistic understanding of full time work life upon graduation.

  • Kokemuller, Neil. Advantages & Disadvantages of Internships. 6 October 2013 http://work.chron.com/
  • Loretto, Penny. Exploring Careers through Job Shadowing. 6 October 2013 http://internships.about.com/
  • University of Cambridge. What is mentoring? 6 October 2013 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/
  • WetFeet. Defining the Six Most Common Internship Types. 3 May 2011. 6 October 2013 https://www.wetfeet.com/

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