Soft skills valuable for internships

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Dixie State University has scheduled a career internship fair to encourage students to get connected with potential employers Feb. 15.

The fair will be held in the Gardner Center Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Shane Blocker, assistant director of employer relations and internships, said there will be employers from across Utah and Nevada who are looking to fill degree positions and non-degree positions for different types of internships and career opportunities. 

Before applying for internships, Blocker said students need to get a clear idea of what they plan to accomplish during an internship, whether that means getting a network going or seeing if they want to pursue a career in a particular field.

“One of the greatest benefits is the network you will gain from that internship and the skills you will develop,” Blocker said. “You’ll also figure out really quickly if that’s an area you really want to go into.”

Students need to first look at what hard and soft skills they want to develop, Blocker said. Hard skills are the technical knowledge you need to be successful, whereas soft skills are qualities that set you apart from other applicants. Blocker said today more and more employers value soft skills over hard skills. 

“[Employers] say to me, ‘We can train technical skills but if [students] have no idea how to communicate effectively or have the ability to adapt, they will not succeed in our business,’” Blocker said. 

When students begin applying for internships, Millie Olsen, a senior human communication major from Moses Lake, Washington, said students need to stay confident throughout the process. 

“I think a lot of students don’t feel like they’re the most qualified, so that deters them from applying for internships,” Olsen said. “Realize that an internship doesn’t mean you have to have experience, it’s a way to build experience.”

Olsen said she applied for two other internships before getting her assistant internship coordinator position at DSU, which is why students should start looking into applying sooner rather than later.

“Your sophomore and junior year are prime times to start doing internships because more and more companies are recruiting much younger,” Blocker said. 

As of right now, only the media studies department requires students to intern as part of the graduation guidelines. However, the other departments highly encourage internships even though they are not required, Blocker said. 

Typically, interns should expect to dedicate between five to 16 hours a week throughout the semester for an internship. 

Sarah Dever, a senior integrated studies major from St. George, said although she is taking 20 credits, she still finds time to be a secretary for the Raging Red company and participate in DSU’s interpreting internship.

“My time management skills have helped me immensely during this start of the semester, without those skills I would be completely lost,” Dever said. 

For those interested in researching about more internships, Blocker said he emails students with general information regarding companies advertising for internships. However, that does not necessarily mean those are all the internships that are available at the time, Blocker said. 

“If a student has a need or a want in a specific area, my job is to get them connected for those specific internships,” Blocker said. “There are so many internship opportunities out there that you just need to start doing the research now.”