In 2001, just over 1 million hopeful young adults graduated from college and stepped into the real world, mostly hoping to find a job substantial enough that they would not have to move back in with their parents. Throughout the last 15 years, that number has increased to 1.9 million graduates.
This means many more people are now attending college, demonstrating positive development in our society. However, this also means that every college graduate now must compete with almost 2 million other individuals for those highly sought-after post-grad jobs.
Throughout their college careers, students are urged to separate themselves from the crowd so that they can attract the attention of potential employers upon graduating. Many students believe the most effective way to accomplish this is through an excellent GPA and outstanding involvement on campus. These qualifications do help to prove a strong work ethic and high level of dedication; however, an increasing number of employers are now giving the competitive edge to students who have completed internships.
In a society where 54 percent of graduates are either unemployed or have jobs that do not measure up to their credentials, completing an internship during one’s college career reduces this possibility.
According to Internships.com, there is a 70 percent likelihood that a student will be hired by the company they interned with upon graduating. One-third of this year’s entry-level positions will be filled by graduates who have interned at the organization.
Employers are citing interview performance and relevant experience as the most important factors in deciding who gets the job, above academics and campus involvement.
Michael Weigel, a junior political science major, worked last summer with the town of Brownsburg as a local government administration intern. Weigel was involved in everything from helping with presentations for the Town Manager to assisting with the town’s website to planning and running various town events.
Weigel found out about this opportunity on Facebook, responded to the request for applicants, was interviewed and subsequently received the job offer. Students should always be on the lookout for internship opportunities—they can be discovered anywhere, even on social media.
His experience as an intern taught Weigel “the importance of being a self-starter on projects and getting to work without being too afraid of making mistakes.” He now feels “more comfortable in a professional work environment, and more confident in [himself] and in the skills [he] brings to the table.”
Weigel encourages his fellow students to seek out internship opportunities because “they help you get a feel for whether that might be the sort of job you’d want to hold in the future, they provide good opportunities to network with professionals in your field, and sometimes you even get a paycheck.”
Abbie Moyer, a junior accounting major, is spending this semester in Indianapolis interning with Greenwalt CPAs. She got the job through AU’s Career and Calling center and their involvement with accounting interview day—a day where students from small schools all over Indiana interview for positions with selected accounting firms.
With this internship, Moyer has the opportunity to conduct audits and do taxes for both individual and corporate clients of Greenwalt. She is gaining valuable experience interacting with people and organizations. “The interns have the same kinds of responsibilities as someone who is actually starting a career there,” she explains.
Moyer appreciates this opportunity to demonstrate what she has learned thus far in her college experience, and to “get a good view of what it would actually be like to have this kind of career.” In addition, through her internship she has learned things like “how to present in a meeting, how to communicate with professionals and other things you don’t get to practice in the classroom.”
Moyer believes this will benefit her in the future because she will be ahead of the game upon graduating with background knowledge and experience to present to potential employers.
As Director for the Career and Calling Center, Katie Mitchell has seen firsthand many times how beneficial student internships are. “Students are able to further their career readiness competencies, gain experience in a potential field of interest, shed light on whether it is an industry they want to continue to pursue, form networking connections and have a greater likelihood of landing a job right after graduation,” she explains.
The Career and Calling Center is a valuable resource for AU students. The CCC exists to assist students in “working on their marketing materials, focusing on areas of work they might be most interested or suited for working within, networking with employers and alums and preparing for interviews,” according to Mitchell.
The CCC is not the only place students seeking internships can go for guidance and direction. “Many faculty members have a wide range of connections and potential employment opportunities for students who take the initiative to show interest and commitment,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell believes that having an understanding of one’s strengths and preferences in the workforce is crucial for students upon graduating, and this can be accomplished through the experience and exposure that an internship provides.