By Elizabeth Cichowski, Jaclyn DeMeuse, & Allyson Haefke
College internships can have lasting benefits even after graduation. There are many ways to get involved and many people to help you.
Internships are a great opportunity to start a pathway to your career. They are an essential way to get work experience and receive college credits for them as well. Danielle Bina, Senior Lecturer in the Communication Department, describes internships as opening a whole new world for students by bridging the gap between academics and the professional world.
An internship is a limited period where you work at an organization/company. The internship often reflects the type of work that the student is interested in pursuing after graduation. Students are hired in the fall, spring, or summer semester of college, usually lasting equivalent to that education period. There are both paid and non-paid internship options, depending on the business and industry. Both options may come with college credits in your department. After working at an internship, there is the potential to be hired within the company.
As a college student, you can find many different variations of internships. Various platforms have internships posted, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Handshake, that you can apply to the internship directly. On LinkedIn, you can make connections with various people you may know or may not know, but you can build your professional network when you form that connection. LinkedIn contacts may also reach out to you for an internship since your profile might match what they are looking for. Also, here at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, students receive emails from Career Services. Linda Peacock-Landrum, the Director of Career Services at UWGB, is always sending information to students about various internships that pertain to their academic field. Danielle Bina is a great source for internship information for the Communication Department. She says that, for the Communication Department, after deciding on a business in the area, students should apply directly with them and then use UWGB’s online Registrar’s site to begin the credit approval process.
Companies that are hiring interns are looking for hard-working, disciplined, and professional individuals. The first step every internship-seeking student needs to do is send their resume to the employer, which your department liaison or Career Services can facilitate. Resumes are a make-or-break type of document. Imperfections with grammar/spelling and length are red flags and will cause your resume to be overlooked. According to Career Services staff, hiring managers know that you are inexperienced, they aren’t looking for full background, but they are looking at your professionalism and how you handle yourself in a new setting.
Internships offer students the ability to use their lesson material in hands-on work. This opportunity allows them to understand how their education is applied and the right fit for this career path. Students may recognize the difference between working in the classroom and working in your field. Professor Bina offers the perspective of “try before you buy” for students thinking about applying for an internship. She goes on to say that internships allow students to “learn from a professional mentor, enhance basic skills, and enjoy the safety net of a mentor to guide them.” Internships allow students the opportunity to put their abilities to practice. Danielle believes that students will either reinforce their career goals or use the exposure as a guide down a different path.
Meghan Finger and Matthew Knoke, both University of Wisconsin – Green Bay students, have immersed themselves in internship programs over the past year. Their experiences were positive and enlightening, offering a glimpse of what their future career choices could look like. Matthew, interning at Cousins Subs, had aspirations to become a journalist, but, after spending time in a public relations internship, he has come to appreciate that line of work and would consider it in his future. “I really like to talk to people and create relationships,” Matthew explains, and his internship has proven that multiple career fields offer those opportunities. Meghan, working with the Green Bay Area Public Schools as the Office of School and Community Relations Intern, has had an eye-opening experience as well. She didn’t know much about public school communication but has grown to love it over time. Both can agree that an internship offers the opportunity to put the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to practice in a real-world setting. An internship is important for students to gain real-world experience and determine their future career paths.