Internships Are Now More Important Than Ever For Undergraduates

April 07, 2010

Internships_Are_now With the national economy facing a long-term recovery from the recent downturn, everyone looking for a job needs patience and persistence. Undoubtedly, it still pays to stay in college and earn a bachelor’s degree. The most recent national unemployment numbers puts the jobless rate for adults (civilians 25 years old and older) with only a high school diploma at 11.9 percent, compared to 4.7 percent of adults with a bachelor’s degree or advanced degree. This pattern has held true over the long term.

What is different now than in past markets is the degree of difficulty new college graduates face in getting that first “real” job. Completing one or more internships during college will better equip graduates to land those entry-level professional jobs, said Kim Edwards, associate director of Career Services. Professor Stephen Baglione, chair of the Business Administration Department, agreed that completing an internship is vitally important for young undergraduates who haven’t previously been in the workforce. “It complements classroom learning and aids in finding a job, either directly or through networking,” Baglione said. Some employers consider the experience gained through college internships so essential, Edwards said, that they will only consider candidates with two internships.

This doesn’t mean that sophomores or juniors have to be certain of their ultimate career goals. But it does mean that students can start talking to their academic advisers and begin thinking about internships during their sophomore years.

Edwards advises students to adopt a professional profile when they begin networking and applying for internships. That means using a resume, posting only professional-looking photos on social-networking pages, recording a professional-sounding outgoing message on personal cell phones, and dropping any cute names from personal e-mail addresses. It’s preferable to use one’s school-assigned e-mail address or to establish a separate e-mail for career development purposes, she said.

Saint Leo students manage to find internships in a variety of ways, noted Cathy Wise, assistant director of Career Services. Career Services itself can be a source of leads, as can faculty contacts, databases such as, personal networks, and direct research into companies. “Student should not just seek out the popular larger companies, because they will often get more out of the experience interning at a smaller company,” Wise said. In all cases, Saint Leo students need to discuss the internship with their academic advisers. Some internships carry academic credit, but even when that is not the case, students should seek faculty oversight, Edwards stressed.

In fact, the student needs to cover several specific points in those discussions, Baglione said. First, students need to discuss with their academic advisers whatever career goals or interests they have so far developed. They also need to discuss with their adviser what objectives they should set for the internship before they begin working. Baglione also likes to meet with the student’s supervisor during the internship, and with the student. He typically asks the supervisor about the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and inquires about further employment and networking opportunities, whether specifically for that student or for Saint Leo students in general. He also talks to the student about his or her experience, and offers advice from evaluation the internships supervisor has provided, and discusses what the student can do to get the most benefit from their remaining time at the internship site.

Students who are going to graduate soon, or who have graduated and are looking for a position, are also invited to contact Career Services for employment postings.

Career Services is also providing transportation for students who would like to attend the Career Expo 2010 sponsored by the Colleges of Central Florida Career Consortium, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday, April 8, at the University of Tampa’s Martinez Sports Center in downtown Tampa. Those who want a ride need to register in advance with Career Services, and be ready to leave at 10 a.m. that morning. All students attending should be dressed in business attire and have with them a Saint Leo ID and multiple copies of their resumes. View the list of employers recruiting at the expo by visiting:

Pictured: Kim Edwards, associate director of Career Services, speaking at a recent workshop for students. .