Guest column: the benefits of completing an internship

The Channels Opinion Pages | Guest Column

Catherine Radecki, Guest Columnist

Many students earn a college degree to prepare themselves for the workplace. However, when they reach graduation there can be a feeling of panic about obtaining a job in their field. To alleviate this stress, students can take steps while earning their degree, to become career ready.

Do you know the #1 thing employers are looking for when making a hiring decision? Experience. A look at local job ads demonstrates that many require two years of relevant work experience. Whether gained through volunteering, internships, or working while in school, employers say they are looking for specific experience that is required by their position.  

One of the best ways to get experience is by completing an internship. Many employers use internships as a recruitment tool that allows them to hire and try out someone without a commitment. Once satisfied that they have made a good selection, hiring managers feel more comfortable offering the intern a regular position. On average, 30% of seniors have job offers at graduation however, 58% of those who complete internships during school secure a job by graduation.  And 65% of students who complete a paid internship have jobs at graduation.   

These numbers are consistent with our experience at Antioch University. Over the past three years we have trained undergraduate students in job seeking skills, provided coaching by a career counselor, and placed students into paid and unpaid internships or part-time jobs. As a result, graduating students have increased their career confidence and successfully progressed from school to work. This change is all the more remarkable because many of our students who transfer from SBCC are only in residence for 15-18 months. International students can participate in internships for academic credit under CPT and after graduation in OPT. The following examples illustrate student internships leading to employment.

Why don’t more students complete internships? Time. Nevertheless, in exchange for time, students gain practical experience in the world of work and receive instruction in job skills. Internships may offer academic credit to help progress towards degree completion.  They also enhance your resume, create opportunities to network, and provide a reference for future applications. With a paid internship, students receive a stipend or hourly wage that can help defray college costs. Finally, the best information for making a career decision is to explore the actual job or work setting of interest. What are you waiting for? Ask your SBCC career advisor or an Antioch Admissions Counselor about how to pursue and benefit from an internship.