What is an “Internship”?
Definition: An internship is an opportunity to integrate career related experience into an undergraduate education by participating in planned, supervised work.
Characteristics of internships:
- Contributes to the student’s personal and professional development through challenging work assignments
- Is completed before the student graduates from the university although in some cases Internships can be completed the summer between the student completing the undergraduate degree and before beginning a graduate degree program
- Is planned and scheduled through consultation with the department or college so as to fit into the undergraduate experience
- Involves a supervision component that is mentoring and educational
- Includes career related experiences that complement what is learned in the classroom
- Will have a reflection and evaluation process at the conclusion of the internship
- Builds upon the relationship the department/college/university has with employers
- Is most successful when the student, the department/college, and the employer all share responsibility in making it a valuable experience.
Career related experience has many names in the university. In addition to “internship,” names include:
- Co-operative education
Across the university, these opportunities to gain career related experience can vary in many ways. They:
- May be paid or unpaid
- May be required as part of the curriculum or optional
- Earn academic credit or no credit is associated with the experience
- Can be from 5 hours a week to 40 hours a week: fulltime or part-time
- Can take place during the summer or during other quarters of the year
- Can last for one quarter or part of one quarter or extend over several quarters
- May be off campus or can take place on campus
These experiences are win-win situations for all involved. Benefits to students:
- Opportunity to work in career related or professional environment
- Provide career awareness for the students
- Give the students the chance to evaluate, reflect upon and try a career field
- Provide valuable experience that helps secure future employment
- Can earn money or credit
- Provide professional networking contacts
- Make classroom learning more interesting
- Help the student develop job search skills
- Develop self-confidence as they identify skills, abilities and talents
Benefits to the employer
- Can evaluate the student for potential full time employment
- Give the employer access to quality candidates
- Students contribute new energy and ideas to the work place
- Scheduling can be flexible to meet the employer’s needs
- Cost effective
Benefits to the Department/College/University
- Strengthen ties to alumni and the community
- Make the transfer out process easier for students
- Curriculum can benefit through feedback from employers
- Help with retention and graduation
- Strengthen the students’ ties to the university when the experience if facilitated by the department/college
In addition to internship related work experience, there are many other activities and experiences undergraduates have while in college that builds their skills and contribute to their future career success. These experiences are also important to academic, personal, and career development and include:
- Research Experience
- Service Learning
- Volunteer Experience
- Student Organization Involvement
Objectives of internships in Political Science:
The following is a list of some objectives which the internship might fulfill for both the student and the organization (agency, candidate, interest group, etc.):
Career Competitive Edge
- Provide students the opportunity to relate theory to practice
- Give students in-service orientation to a career area they may wish to pursue
- Allow students the opportunity to work in their area of intended specialization
- Enhance student’s understanding of organizational and group processes
- Enhance student’s awareness of public service obligations
- Develop an ongoing relationship between the academic and practitioner community
- Provide “apprentice” expertise and a new perspective for organizational operations
- An internship also offers you a chance to learn and discover different elements that may interest you in any area. It can also be the deciding factor that best predicts if this field is something you would really be interested in pursuing as a future career choice.
With today’s job market being highly competitive, you will need to make yourself stand out amongst the rest. Students who have completed internships obtain employment more quickly following graduation. It also looks great on your resume! Although you may occasionally have to make coffee or file papers, an internship is a great opportunity to gain real world experience and to get your foot in the door.
"Since I don’t know what I want to do as a career, I won’t know what internships I want."An internship helps assists in your career decision. Regardless of which internship you choose, it is a great opportunity to find out about what you want to do in your career in terms of interest. You may discover a new interest through an internship experience.
Career Exploration and Decision-Making
Internships offer you a chance to learn and discover. You will never buy a car without a test drive first, right? Then you will never know if a particular career is right for you until you take it for a test drive. You may find out that your dream job really isn’t what you expected. You may even discover a new interest you never knew you had.
Networking and Professional Connections
Did you know that 80% of the jobs available out there are NOT advertised? Your internship can provide a great environment for you to find a Mentor who can help you learn about your field of interest based on his/her own experiences and professional connections. Take the time, when appropriate, to ask the professionals at your internship site questions about their job responsibilities and their career journey. In addition, if you take your internship seriously, are reliable, and perform your job well, you increase your chances of receiving outstanding professional references for future employers. Plus, due to the professional relations/rapport you have built, you could be personally recommended for upcoming job opportunities in the department you are currently working in or elsewhere in or outside of your internship site.
Remember, your internship site is place where you can expand the network of people you know – the bigger your network, the more success you can have in your future career – Its not just what you know, its who you know!
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