Most will agree that internships are valuable experiences that give students a “leg-up” when it comes time to apply for “real” jobs. There is a thin-line, however, between what is an internship and what is a job. The Chronicle recently featured an article on internships, Internships Have Value, Weather or Not Students Are Paid, which upholds this longstanding tradition. The author, Charles Westerberg, believes that internships serve all three parties involved – the company/organization, the student, and the academic institution.
This is not a new topic, but has come under significant scrutiny as the economy has turned and jobs for new grads diminished quickly. As the number of jobs decreased through 2008 and 2009, college seniors attempted to shield themselves from the downturn by continuing their education, working for non-profits, or working for free. But, now there is hope – USA Today finds that 2011 college grads face a much better outlook than the past few years of graduates.
This practice is quite a bit different than the typically college internship, which usually counts for credit. These are highly structured (sometimes), facilitated (sometimes) experiences that are meant to enhance a student’s understanding, excitement, and skills in a particular field. And because they are often for credit, the student actually pays to be the intern! (the money goes to the institution, of course)
So before deciding which school to attend, think about internships: Do you want to have a real-world experience before you leave college? If so, do you want the school to facilitate this for you? And, are you willing to have it included in your tuition? Perhaps you want to leave the real-world to summer – how does the school help you obtain a summer job or internship?