Apr 052005
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Internships may be extremely important and beneficial to a student's future, and while they may not be as easy as Paris Hilton makes them look on "The Simple Life," they are a valuable asset to life after college.

"Internships are a great way for students to 'test drive a career' before they go into it and realize they may not like it," said JoAnn Cornell, a career counselor at CSU's Career Center. "They also provide the student with the chance to learn about the company, develop networks and contacts and learn skills."

The Career Center Web site, www.career.colostate.edu, offers students a free internship database called Career Ram. Once students are registered they are able to search the Jobs Online database and query on internships.

"Career Ram is a great way for students to search for internships," Cornell said. "The internship and job listings get updated daily, so it's a great place to search frequently."

Some students may be frustrated because most internships are equivalent to a full-time job, yet some do not pay. However, Cornell believes the experience will outweigh the lack of pay in the future.

"Sometimes organizations may not have the money to pay, but have an incredible experience to provide," she said. "I know it's difficult for many students as they seek paid opportunities, but sometimes the sacrifice will pay off later."

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers rated their organization's internship program as the second best recruitment method out of 18 possible categories. Employers also reported that approximately 55 percent of their new hires between 1999 and 2000 had internship experience.

"Since employers have a chance to test the intern out it makes for a nice bridge of possibilities after graduation, especially since the student is already aware of the environment and has had some training," Cornell said.

Cornell said if a student can swing working at any job to pay the bills and still being able to do an unpaid internship, the networks and learning provided through the organization and culture could outweigh not being paid for the experience.

Aside from the Career Center, there are several other resources available to help students find the internship they are looking for.

"Students may try checking to see if their department has an internship coordinator and get in contact with them," Cornell said. "Sometimes departments also have message boards so students can check to see if there are internship listings there too. Networking and talking with people is another way students have found their own internships."

Jerry Culp is an internship coordinator for the Department of Design and Merchandising and has a lot of belief in the internship program.

"I conduct a pre-internship seminar in which students in the Design and Merchandising program learn how to prepare resumes, cover letters and receive help in finding an internship that is right for them," Culp said. "Internships are a big plus in education, and our internship program continues to grow."

Culp said internships are extremely important for students, and the hands-on training is valuable to their future.

"Internships provide a great learning experience and many get hired on for entry level positions, which is a great way to start out," he said.

Culp said that not every program is lucky enough to have an internship coordinator, but students should take advantage of other resources out there.

"Students need to remember to ask questions on what they will be doing and identify with the job to be sure it is right for them," he said.

Ali Cochran, a senior international studies major, would like to do an internship before graduating, but said that finding one within her field is difficult.

"I don't really know anything about internships within my major," she said. "Since my major is more unique, they are more difficult to find."

Cochran said internship experience is important for students because they can go into a job without being blind sighted.

"Internships are great opportunities for both students and companies," she said. "Students get to see what the job market is like and companies get to see what is coming out of college."

Some majors require students to have an internship before they can graduate. Cochran said that although the word "required" is somewhat imposing, internships are still a good thing to have.

"It is important to remember to have a good cover letter, resume and list of references put together," Cornell said. "Be prepared and treat it like its own mini job search. The skills you learn now will help with your eventual job search in the future."

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