Gaining real life experience in one's career field holds potential to propel his or her future success, and internships offer the perfect opportunity to get a taste of what to expect after college.
"Internships are a great way to try out different careers," said Ann Malen, Career Center director. "It's valuable when you're starting out to have someone give you guidance."
The Career Center, located in Ammons Hall, provides free assistance for students interested in internships. Counselors are available to help with resumes, interviewing skills and career guidance.
One way to find available internships is to view internship and job postings at the Career Center's Web site, http://career.colostate.edu. After a student registers to view postings on CareerRAM, they can have internship listings matching their interests e-mailed directly to them, Malen said.
"The students who have been proactive and have gotten internships are more likely to get a job offer," Malen said. "We help connect them to employers."
Wayne Lewis, junior financial and marketing major (CQ)cm, began interning his junior year of high school.
"There wasn't any opportunity set up," Lewis said. "I just got curious and started looking."
Lewis contacted The Group, a real estate agency based in northern Colorado, and arranged an internship with them. The internship led to a scholarship and a paid internship position, which led to full employment.
"I had to want to do it for educational reasons because I wasn't getting paid great to begin with," Lewis said. "At The Group, I've gotten a lot of experience and learned trade skills. Working at the Rio bussing tables, I didn't learn anything."
Piper Fairbanks, senior marketing major (CQ)cm, agreed that gaining practical work experience through internships was worth the pay cut.
"Four of the five internships I've done are unpaid," Fairbanks said. "It's tough to not have financial stability but at the same time it'll pay when I get the job later on."
Fairbanks, who currently interns at the radio station 99.9 The Point and at an insurance agency, said her internships are invaluable.
"Not only do you get work experience but you get experience interviewing and networking," Fairbanks said.
Networking, Lewis said, was one of the most important things learned while interning.
"To get a good job, you need an internship because you need to start making contacts," Lewis said. "If you don't have any contacts out of college, you're at ground zero."
Interning connects academic work to the real world, Fairbanks said.
"You're putting together the information you're learning in class with the work you're doing," she said. "It helps give me a cutting edge in class. I can relate to the case studies because I've done it."
Fairbanks said using resources such as the Career Center and the business department helped her find internship opportunities and prepare for the application and interviewing process.
"Keep applying (for internships). The more I put myself out there, the more chances I have," Fairbanks said.
Learning how to present oneself to a potential employer is vital, Lewis said.
"I think it's key to package yourself well. You should always have a cover letter and a focused resume," Lewis said. "The Career Center helped me revamp mine. Don't overlook your own department's resources as well."
Malen said she wished more students would visit the Career Center earlier in their academic careers.
"We don't want students to wait until they graduate," she said. "We want freshmen to come in."
Lewis said he agreed that starting early was important.
"You shouldn't go through four years of college without dabbling in the field you're interested in," he said. "Don't expect things to come to you. You have to go out and get it yourself."