By Ryan Pyatt, Kelly Krebsbach, & Mackenzie Ullmer
Internships are a common part of a college student’s higher education experience, especially at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB). This month is National Internship Awareness Month, and a UWGB faculty member and a student share their advice and experience with internships.
Benefits of an Internship
Abigail Drapalik, the Program Coordinator for Outreach and Programming at UWGB Career Services, states that internships benefit students by “allowing them to learn experientially,” and “apply their classwork and skills to real-life situations.” Internships also provide a pathway for students to expand their network, “leading to future full-time positions, whether it is at the company they are currently working for or through a connection they have made on the job,” Drapalik says.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2019 Internship & Co-op Survey Report, about 56 percent of interns were converted into full-time, entry-level hires at their internship site upon graduating.
Getting an internship may be difficult for some students, but Drapalik says that should not stop students from pursuing other options. The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey also found that, of the class of 2019 graduates, about 44 percent did not have an internship, but had at least one job offer. “Experience plays a huge part in getting job offers, so even if it is very difficult for a student to get an internship, they should try working at a job that has transferable skills such as customer service,” Drapalik states.
How to Get an Internship
The first thing that Drapalik mentions is students should research each industry in their field of study so that they know when they can start applying for internships. “Some fields of study prefer juniors and seniors, while others start offering internships as early as freshman or sophomore year. Even if students are not applicable until their junior or senior year, they should still start making connections and contacting Career Services during their freshman and sophomore years,” Drapalik says.
UWGB Career Services offers many resources for students, such as assisting in building and editing resumes, events such as job fairs and etiquette training, a job searching site called Handshake, and much more. Drapalik states that UWGB Career Services is not doing any specific events for National Internship Awareness Month but, “they are always raising awareness for internships.”
At UWGB, students can take two courses that aid them in deciding which major to pursue and how to better prepare themselves for a future job. PSYCH 225 Career Planning focuses on the knowledge and resources students can use to decide about future careers and what they want to study. BUS ADM 210 Professional Skills for Your Career teaches students how to write a professional resume, improve their interviewing and networking skills, and appropriate etiquette in the workplace. These classes are open to any major.
From a UWGB Student’s Perspective
Julia Doenges, a junior at UWGB studying Communication with an emphasis in Health Communication, explains her role as a Social Media and E-Commerce intern at Azure, a contemporary women’s fashion store in De Pere, Wis. “My responsibilities are to create content for Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, Reels, etc. I also write copy for those posts. I work heavily on Shopify to create products, write product descriptions, tag products, create collections, and more for our online website. Additionally, I take and edit photos of the clothing pieces to be used on our website and create two weekly emails, two weekly app notifications, and one weekly text to be sent to our customers,” Doenges shared. Other duties include collaborating with her co-workers to create short and long-term strategies and completing weekly and monthly analytics for Azure’s Instagram, Facebook, and Shopify.
Doenges is grateful for her on-the-job experience. She explains how she believes this opportunity has benefited her. “This internship has taught me so much not only about social media, but also about working with a team to create innovative, profitable strategies,” Doenges notes. She also mentions that, because of this experience, she has learned how to be more creative, independent, and confident, and says that she will “absolutely apply these skills in a job post-graduation.”
For students looking for an internship, Doenges suggests, “Just go for it! Experience is everything. You never know if you will truly love something without trying. Green Bay is full of extremely knowledgeable people and it is so much fun to learn from them.”
Link to UWGB Handshake: Handshake (joinhandshake.com)
UWGB Career Services: https://www.uwgb.edu/careers/
Audio Clips From Interview:
- Abigail Drapalik on how students can prepare to have a successful internship experience
- Drapalik’s recommendation of what resources students should use when looking for internships
- Drapalik explains how internships help prepare students to become better candidates for jobs in their field post-graduation
- Drapalik describes what courses UWGB offers that focus on professionalism and career planning
- Drapalik details how UWGB’s Career Services helps students
Sources: UWGB Career Services – Abigail Drapalik, Program Coordinator for Outreach and Programming at UWGB Career Services – National Association of Colleges and Employers – Julia Doenges, UWGB Junior