• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Jumpstart Your Career: Where, How and Why Students Can Get Internships

As we close out the Spring semester, many students may be thinking about what they are going to be doing during the Summer and Fall semesters. What classes are they going to take? Will they have a full- or part-time job? For some, internships are part of these considerations.

Several Sinclair programs, including Automotive Technology (AUT), Criminal Justice Science (CJS), and Real Estate (RES), require internships. These courses can range from one to four credit hours and may also be part of certificates, such as the Communication (COM) department’s New Media certificate. Internship sections may be offered in face-to-face or online sections depending on the program.

A description of a Management (MAN) Sinclair internship course according to the Registration Portal is as follows: 

“Students earn credit toward degree requirements for work learning experience. Students already working may apply to use that experience to meet internship requirements. Students establish learning outcomes and prepare related reports and/or projects each term. Thirty hours per week in the workplace.” 

To students who have never completed an internship before, this information may be a bit confusing or overwhelming. April Ramey, a worksite developer in Sinclair’s Work-Based Learning department, has plenty of advice and reassurance for these students. 

Ramey defines an internship as “applying what you’re learning to the real world.” 

In other words, when in an internship, students are not just going to class and completing homework assignments – they are showing what they have taken away from those things and are building skills they can use later. Ramey added that internships are a way for students to “get their foot in the door” of their industry and “grow their social capital.”

Most internships are part-time, entry-level positions, though whether or not they are paid will depend on the company that students are placed with. 

But internships are about more than just the money. Ramey views it as an opportunity for individuals to figure out what they do and do not like; maybe the industry they thought was a fit turns out to not be for them – and that’s okay! 

Internships also lend themselves to mentorship, said Ramey. As a worksite developer, she ensures that businesses have someone who can “walk alongside the intern” and be a source of support for them. She emphasized the importance of students asking questions and not being afraid to go to this mentor figure for help, whether they are a supervisor, an owner, or someone else.

Students may also wonder what benefits – other than checking off another program requirement – come with completing an internship.

Ramey pointed out that, by doing an internship early on in their college career, people can “set [themselves] apart.” More specifically, they can stand out in the pool of possibly hundreds of applicants that may be vying for the same position. And for those who plan to transfer to a four-year university, it’s possible that an internship may be required later on. 

When students successfully complete an internship, they are part of “an employer’s pipeline,” as Ramey puts it. They may be one of the first people the employer goes to when they’re looking to hire for other positions because they’re already aware of the individual’s skills, knowledge, and work ethic. Instead of searching externally, the employer has a candidate right at their fingertips.

“What you put into it is what you get out of it,” stated Ramey. The interns who really invest themselves in the position will be the first ones considered for future opportunities – they will be remembered.

When asked why students should consider internships, Ramey replied with, “Why not?” 

“It’s an indispensable experience,” she said. 

But Ramey wants to remind students that “not everyone is on the same path.” 

Your internship may look different from someone else’s, and that’s okay! If you can’t get one right away, don’t be discouraged – the Work-Based Learning department is there to help. However, Ramey says that it is never too early to be looking for internships and that it is “great to be proactive.” 

And if students need help? Ramey says: “Don’t Google it, come to us!” 

While it is the responsibility of the student to secure an internship, the Work-Based Learning department can assist with resumes, mock interviewing, and more. And they work on apprenticeships, too! 

Students who are enrolled in programs with an internship should make sure they have an opportunity set up prior to registering for the internship course. They’ll also need to make sure they have contact with the department and their academic advisor to get permission to do so.

There are plenty of resources out there for aspiring interns, including Eric Woodard’s book The Ultimate Guide to Internships. 

Having worked in a few internships myself, I want to share a few tips with my fellow students. 

Underestimate, rather than overestimate, the time you can put into the role. While some internships will state that you are to commit “X” number of hours per week, others may ask how much you can commit. It is always better to do more than you expected rather than less. Be sure to consider classes and other obligations you may have.

Be an asset. Do more than you are asked whenever possible. If you complete a task early, ask what you can do in addition, even if it may not be your cup of tea. You never know how much help that one thing might be. Besides, it’s always great to try something new!

Apply for as many as you can, but be strategic. Especially in certain industries, internships can be highly competitive. Applying for multiple positions can maximize your chances of getting an interview (and subsequently the job) but can also pose some issues. I have learned this the hard way – I was offered multiple internships and had to make a pretty quick decision about which one to take. It wasn’t fun! Thus, if you think right away that you might not like a position, reconsider whether you should apply for it. Spend more time on an application for a role you think you have a better chance of getting.

Don’t compare yourself. Everyone wants to work at the biggest and best companies in their industry, but only a few can score internships. You may have to start at a smaller business – but this does not mean that your internship is any less important. You can still put those experiences on your resume and use them to work your way up to that dream role. You will get there! Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to become burnt out – even if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing. Leave your mark on that small company because it will pay off!

I hope these tips are helpful to anyone who may be navigating the world of internships. Thank you to April Ramey for contributing to this conversation!

Students interested in connecting with Work-Based Learning can email the department at workbasedlearning@sinclair.edu

If you’re looking for a Communication (COM) or Journalism (JOU) internship, The Clarion is almost always hiring! Visit our hiring page to find out how you can join our team! 

Carly Webster

Project manager/Staff writer