Having an internship or practicum that relates well to your career goals can make a huge difference in your job search success after graduation. These experiences provide an opportunity to grow key relationships with professionals in your desired career field, network and gain experience to show on your resume.
Internships come in a variety of flavors: for-credit, non-credit, paid and unpaid.
If doing an internship or practicum for credit, one credit will equal 40 hours of work at the sponsoring organization. You can do more than one credit; in fact you may have a better experience if you do 2-3 credit hours (80-120 hours).
Internships can be done in any major.
An internship is required for Human Relations majors; a practicum is required for Organizational Communication majors. Students from other majors can do an internship for experience only (non-credit earning), or can earn elective credit for their internship. Your advisor can help you navigate the for-credit/non-credit choice.
There are a lot of sources for internships.
These include JobZone (Doane’s online job board), and InternNE.org. You can also directly approach an employer to express your interest in doing an internship or practicum; some employers will create an opportunity for you. The Career Development Office can help you if needed.
You can complete your internship in any term or spread it out over two terms if needed.
Try to have your internship or practicum site set up before the term begins.
You don’t want to use the first 3-4 weeks of the term trying to get something set up and then have to squeeze your hours in. Start early!
Try to avoid leaving your internship for your last 1-2 terms.
Due to the uncertainty about how long it might take to get something set up, you may put unnecessary stress on yourself. Shoot for the end of your junior year or early in your senior year. Avoid registering for your internship or practicum in the same terms you are working on your senior seminar.
You will be required to attend a one-time informational meeting.
The meeting will be at the beginning of the term you enroll to go over processes and paperwork. Watch for those dates and times on the schedule, and mark your calendar.
You’re probably very busy; school, work, and family obligations may leave you feeling strapped for time. There are many ways to get your hours in; it takes some planning and creativity, but it will be time well spent.
A 2010 CBS News poll shows graduates with internships having faster placement rates and higher starting salaries.
Need more information? Contact Susan Rocker.