Obtaining a job can be a difficult task, but internships can help ease the challenge.
Internships provide a way for students to test the waters of the real world before actually stepping out into it.
Networking is key
Lindsey Christensen, Dixie State College internship coordinator, said internships provide students with networking opportunities.
“Networking is so important,” Christensen said. “It gives you the opportunity to meet new people. It gives you the opportunity to prove to them that you have a skill. It also gets your foot in the door into companies.”
Networking can be described by the well-known saying: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” If students develop rapport with particular people, their networking will prove to be beneficial in lining up jobs.
Christensen said people in town have connections with people outside of town, so if a student wants to stay with a company, but the company doesn’t have availability, there are many out-of-state opportunities that can be set up through networking.
“That person can write a great letter of recommendation,” Christensen said. “They can be a fantastic reference, and in a town like St. George, good references are needed.”
Christensen said many companies hire student interns before even looking at other applicants, so internships are the best way for individuals to get hired by major corporations and businesses.
Test it out while earning college credit
Another important point Christensen made is that internships are a way to “try out a job before you buy it.”
Interns are able to decide whether they like or dislike a job within a few months.
While internships are beneficial to students, they also are helpful for companies. Rather than making a decision based upon a quick interview, employers are able to see first-hand the capabilities of an intern.
Philip Lee, professor and previous chair of the Udvar-Hazy School of Business, said internships allow businesses to take a look at a potential employee before hiring. Lee said more than half of the business student interns have been offered jobs from the companies they interned for.
He said internships are a way for students to explore a potential career path before having to commit to it.
Not only do internships give students an idea of what to expect with certain jobs, but they also are a way to earn college credit. Christensen said internships are a way to fill the requirements of an upper division elective.
If students are interested in earning college credit for interning, they should talk to an academic adviser.
Christensen said, “I help you with getting the actual internship, but to get the college credit and to also meet the course requirements, you have to be meeting with a faculty adviser.”
Utilize campus departments and resources
A number of opportunities are provided by each department on campus.
“The departments have a lot of connections,” Christensen said. “Dixie is phenomenal at their networking.”
Christensen recommended students use the free resources available at the Career Center on campus. One of the most beneficial resources offered at the Career Center is the resume review.
“Your resume is how you get your job, and it doesn’t matter how great your personality is or how set you are or how qualified you are for the job,” Christensen said. “If your resume doesn’t look good, it’s just going to be thrown into a pile.”
The resume review takes a few visits, but Christensen said perfecting a resume is well worth the time and effort a student puts forth. There’s always room for improvement.
Although communication is currently the only department requiring student internships, Lee said he encourages business students to also participate.
Christensen said she hopes even more departments will soon jump on board.
“We would love for our students to graduate with jobs, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to give them internship experience,” Christensen said. “I think it’s an easy way to start.”
Don’t wait until the last minute
Even though only junior and seniors are allowed to do internships, freshman and sophomores should not procrastinate thinking ahead. Students who are interested in interning should meet with an academic adviser early on, or set up an appointment with Christensen by calling 435-879-4737 or emailing [email protected].
Christensen said students who plan to do an internship should already have an idea of what company they want to work for or the kind of work they are interested in, that way she can channel student needs to companies that fit.
She said students can contact her as early as they want, but she recommends students come in at least a month before the semester they plan to intern, which is junior or senior year. Summer internships should be lined up spring semester.
Christensen said out-of-state internships have specific deadlines, so it’s the student’s responsibility to research the company they want to work for to see when these deadlines are to be met.