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INTERNSHIPS: Who Really Benefits?

As a career counselor, I’ve seen many resumes needing critiques and a very common objective mistake is writing it in the job seeker’s perspective instead of towards the employer. Everyone understands that an internship will help you gain experience, but what the company wants to know is what specific goal you have that matches their mission. So this begs the question as to who really benefits from an internship. Does the company, or the intern, or what about the college/university?

You’ve been told time after time about the benefits of an internship to the intern. The student gains experience and networking opportunities on the job. Internships help to pad the resumé and make students more competitive when looking for full-time jobs. The student also learns more about themselves as a responsible worker and can clarify their professional goals after gaining experience through internships. So let’s look at the other partners in this triad relationship: the employer (who offers the position) and the university (who coordinates with the employer and informs students of opportunities).

Internship Benefits to Employers:

  • Companies can train potential future employees
  • Interns provide new energy to the office
  • Interns provide new ideas and technology into the office
  • Interns can do the work that the full-time staff haven’t had time to accomplish or even start
  • Interns can help evaluate current company practices and offer suggestions of alternate options

Internship Benefits to Universities:

  • We get to help students!! Our favorite thing!
  • Helping students gain experience and eventually full-time jobs will then increase alumni relations throughout the community and beyond
  • Career services and academic departments also connect with the internship employers, and then can offer these similar opportunities to future students
  • Universities build and expand connections throughout the community which increases their reputation
  • Internships are one way a university demonstrates productivity, which in turn keeps us working for students

Why it’s imperative that students report all internships to their University:

  • Having a structured academic process can validate the experience
  • It’s part of Career Services’ job description to work with, and connect employers and students
  • Career Services is a natural connector between student needs and employer expectations
  • Internship Coordinators can help with negotiations that may arise
  • Internship Coordinators ensure the internship job duties are related to the students’ major/goals

When it’s all said and done we know that internships are important and expected to be seen on resumes by employers. There are a few options for students when searching for internships. The students could utilize their academic department or career services to help them locate these internships, or they could create their own internship experience. Unless the major requires an internship experience, the student doesn’t even have to take the internship for academic credit. Regardless of the need for academic credit, I still recommend all interns inform either their academic advisor or a representative from career services. The student will in turn have someone to assist them with any questions or problems that could arise during the experience.

Author:
Karen is a Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). At IPFW she assists students in finding internships, coordinates and assists with campus-wide events, teaches a Career Planning course, and meets with students individually to assist them with all aspects of career development. Connect with Karen via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Related posts:

  1. On-Campus Jobs: Benefits of Office Work
  2. Facebooking for Internships
  3. The Benefits of Professional Organizations

5 Responses to “INTERNSHIPS: Who Really Benefits?”

  1. avatar Jon Boroshok says:

    Internships have become a prerequisite to entry-level jobs. While they once gave graduating students an edge over the competition, someone without at least two relevant internships is now at a distinct disadvantage.

    While all three “partners” may benefit, in some ways, the university can be cut out. Internships aren’t really about academics, yet the school charges the student a per credit fee for the privilege of working for someone else for free. They school often does not provide a value-add, yet collects revenue. Writing an academic paper about an internship is often just busy work with little career benefit to the student. It’s like having a professor that just facilitates discussion about a text book rather than actually teaching.

    It doesn’t matter if there was a stipend, an hourly wage, academic credit or all/none of the above. The bottom line was whether the internship honed any news skills that the prospective employer needs/wants. Was it relevant? What contacts did you make? What experience and skills did you gain? What can you bring to the table?

  2. Jon – I agree with and understand your point. I too believe it’s important for the student to gain experience no matter what format (academic vs. non-academic). I am a product of chosen majors that required me to have an internship for credit in order to graduate, so I can see the benefit of this option as well. Having a few extra credits moves you closer to graduation, while it being added to your transcript as well.

    The unfortunate harsh reality is that most students aren’t even aware of internships unless it is required of them for their chosen major. The university and career services, especially, is a key component to help students realize this need. If you were to cut out the university then you would cut out that message.

    I also recommend keeping the university component because sometimes the experience is not all that it’s cracked up to be. I personally had a poor internship experience during my undergrad, and if it wasn’t for my advisor that internship could have turned into something much worse than what it was. I’ve also been privy to poor experiences that students at my university have experienced. Again, without the help of this third party the student can walk away with an extremely poor experience and nothing gained.

    On the flip side of this argument, there are some companies that have poor experiences with students and the university representative can help by intervening, moderating a meeting between all parties, and help to determine the next best course of action. I understand from an employer stand-point that it may not matter if the university is involved, but I encourage you to look at it from a student’s perspective. Especially if this student has not had a professional job before, and doesn’t understand what’s expected… the university can help teach these lessons and address any concerns before the student begins the internship.

  3. [...] Of course, now you might be asking: Why have interns at all if we have to pay them? In a recent Student Branding Blog post, career counselor Karen Obringer lists the following ways companies benefit from hiring interns: [...]

  4. [...] Of course, now you might be asking: Why have interns at all if we have to pay them? In a recent Student Branding Blog post, career counselor Karen Obringer lists the following ways companies benefit from hiring interns: [...]

  5. [...] Of course, now you might be asking: Why have interns at all if we have to pay them? In a recent Student Branding Blog post, career counselor Karen Obringer lists the following ways companies benefit from hiring interns: [...]

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