Internships importance shown in job market

Josefine Gyllensporre/ Contributing Writer

Study hard. Network harder. Graduate high school. Go to college. Get your dream job. This is the typical career path for most University students envision.

What many are missing, however, is the internship milestone — the linking device between an academic and professional career.

We have all heard someone insist on the importance of obtaining an internship. Faculty and staff at the University claim it is an essential experience. Economics professor Alfonso Rodriguez said that in today’s market, internship experience is a determining factor on employers’ decision to hire. They “add weight” to your resumé, he said.

“If a student doesn’t have any [work experience], the company might be hesitant to hire,” said Rodriguez.

Indeed, recruiters look for experience and one of the most sought-after assets prospects should have is the ability to lead and manage a team.

“What Target really looks for in interns is leadership. Leadership can come in all forms and that is something we really like,” said Cody Woods, senior field campus recruiter at Target Corporation.

Matthew Tanner, assistant director at Career Services, said that a good career strategy for any undergraduate student is to start exploring options and jobs in their first two years in school.

“The thing we fear most in this office is when you see seniors come in and they’ve done well academically, but their vision of what it takes to end up with a good job is to get good grades, to finish school and to get your degree,” said Tanner. “But in today’s economy and when you start looking at statistics and talking to employers, you need to have substantial experience in a lot of cases in order to land a good job.”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers statistics, 95 percent of employers are looking for experience in college graduates. 60 percent of all 2012 college interns received at least one job offer after completing their internship. Moreover, organizations converted 57.7 percent of interns into full-time hires, which is the highest recorded percentage to date.

Career Services, located in Graham Center at MMC 230 and Wolfe University Center 255 at BBC, kicked off their preparations for the coming career fairs on Jan. 28 with Career Bash at BBC. Both events involve workshops and seminars geared to help students prepare for the upcoming fairs. They will be held at BBC’s WUC Ballrooms on Feb. 6 from 3-7 p.m. and at MMC’s U.S. Century Bank Arena on Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. This provides an opportunity for students to explore possible career choices by meandering through the different employers, some of which are listed as Fortune 500.

In addition to these preparations, Career Services has developed the Executive Protegé Initiative Program, aimed at students with the dedication to improve their professional skills. Tanner said that the program is a great tool for students to get to know the staff, who all have great connections with many recruiters.

“You get exposure to the staff here, you get to know them on a first-name basis so when an opportunity comes across our desk which happens every day… Obviously all of these get posted,” Tanner said. “But we might have a handful of students in mind we know would be a good fit for that so we want to send that information out to them.”

Tanner also mentioned the importance of networking with not just faculty and employers, but also with other students.

“Who knows three to four years down the road you’ve made contacts with someone in the same field as you,” said Tanner. “You end up working with them, you offer them a job or they offer you a job.”

Internships nowadays are well-structured and many of them are paid. Two things that some students are unaware of. Many internships no longer involve running errands and filing paperwork.

“They give you real, professional experience,” said Tanner.

Above day-to-day responsibilities, internships offer students entry to the community of his or her particular field of study making networking that much easier.

“It’s about what you know, but it’s also about who you know,” said Tanner.

Not only do internships add value to your resume, as an intern you are a great resource for the company.

“I think the biggest value that interns bring to our company is a fresh prospective on the business world, a desire to grow and learn, and a unmatchable energy towards innovation and success,” said Woods.

The appreciation for college-level interns is mirrored in how they are treated at their respective jobs. Companies like Microsoft offer students a flavor of what executive life within their brick walls is all about.

“I also highly enjoyed the fact that the company treated us like VIPs, giving us access to plenty of resources to succeed in our work,” said Masieri.

Though Masieri did not obtain his job through Career Services, he mentioned how the workshops offered at the office definitely helped him develop professionally.

“Some people expect Career Services to be this magical office where they show up, and once they walk out the door, they leave with a job. This is not the case. Career Services is just a resource to help you become a better professional, but it’s up to the student to use those resources and put them to practice,” said Masieri. “As Thomas Edison once said, ‘Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration,’ I like to change that quote and replace the word Genius with the word Success.”