After graduation many students find themselves stuck in a catch-22. To gain experience they need a job, but have trouble getting hired without previous work history.
So students are turning to summer internships for hands on training, and an impressive addition to a resume.
“Internships do two things, they give you exposure to the industry and it also acts as an informal interview. If you make a good impression and a job opens up they are likely to hire within their company if they see you as a valuable member of the team,” Palomar College Career Center director, Rosie Antonecchia said.
Based on estimates from the National Center for Education Statistics, 1.6 million people are expected to receive bachelor’s degrees this year. Internships help grads stand out from their peers, especially during the interview process.
According to Antonecchia, the perfect time for an internship is before a student finishes their degree, so they don’t waste time and money on a major or a career that they don’t want.
“Nothing is as fabulous as it seems, so internships are there to help you see if the job you’re doing is where you really need to be,” Antonecchia said.
In a shrinking job market, landing an internship can be competitive. Antonecchia suggests doing your research on the company prior to the interview.
“You must come off as knowledgeable. You must be very driven, must be a go getter and independent,” Antonecchia said. “Students have to be able to showcase themselves as someone that is worth keeping in the company.”
Creativity, communication and critical thinking abilities are also very desirable to companies. When applying for an internship Antonecchia says that students should be on time, dressed professionally and well-versed in common courtesy and customer service skills.
“Employers are looking for interns that treat their position as if it were their real job,” Antonecchia said.
Most large corporations have some sort of internship program. It is important for students to make sure what they are applying for is worth their time and effort and will help them move forward in their career.
An array of internship opportunities are posted on the Career Center’s website.
“Whatever comes our way we share,” Antonecchia said. “Students can come in and see what’s available, and we can prepare them for an interview.”
Career Center counselors offer assistance with the application process, but do not have a placement service at this time due to lack of funding.
Faculty member Sandra Andre of the Architecture and Interior Design Department had better luck placing students with internship opportunities this summer.
“We’re placing students in internships with construction companies like the one on campus, Barnhart Balfour Beatty,” Andre said.
Architect student Courtney Augustus was an intern for LPA, the architecture firm who designed the MD building on campus.
“I assisted in the corrections and mostly did paperwork,” Augustus said. “They taught me about overall processes and how much planning go into designing a building.”
Augustus suggests that every student should do an internship.
“You have to find an internship with a company that is really willing to take you on and give you the attention you need to learn and grow,” Augustus said.
Internships are a mutually beneficial relationship for all parties involved which is why companies approach colleges, like Palomar to find summer internship candidates.
According to Andre, Barnhart Balfour Beatty attended a recent advisory meeting where they were anxiously asking for more student interns and said, “send us three more if they are as great as the student we received last year.”
In the summer months, students can get ahead by gaining real work experience, beyond what can be taught in a classroom.
“It’s a perfect time for students to see what new technologies are out there in the work force,” Andre said.