Unpaid internships benefi cial to devoted college students, those seeking post-grad jobs

Written By Alex Stumpf

April is consistently one of the most frantic months in the lives of college students. Amidst the craziness of term papers, finals and hammering out a schedule for next semester, a student has to endure the pressure of trying to find work for the summer months.A very popular form of summer work is unpaid internships. These internships have a negative connotation for some, however, mainly due to the fact that they are “unpaid,” and the last time anyone checked, a job that doesn’t pay will not fund an education. Many students would rather get jobs bussing tables and get paychecks instead. And while jobs like those are beneficial in the short run, their holders will eventually and inevitably wish their resumes featured internships related to their fields instead of a fry cook at Burger King. In an increasingly competitive job market, any advantage could prove to be crucial.The image of an intern running around doing menial tasks like grabbing coffee has been hammered into students’ minds by everything from sitcoms to horror stories from other students. These tales are usually mere exaggerations, though. The truth is, interns will occasionally receive some menial tasks, but the majority of theikr workload is beneficial. At the very least, if an intern is unlucky and does have to spend a summer getting coffee and answering phones, he or she can at least list the experience on a resume.One of the best things about an internship is that you are always in the company’s building. This means that if a position opens up, you will be one of the first people to hear about it. Many companies grow from within, so interns are often some of the most seriously considered candidates for new available jobs. So if you cannot find a job in the first couple of weeks after graduation, taking an internship is not a bad idea.Of course, there is also an obvious reason for an internship’s benefit: you can work in your field. You get a head start on your peers. A resume can be built through internships alone, and job candidates now need to have held an internship in that field if they have just graduated college or they won’t be seriously considered. The reason that colleges post internships and help their students get them is to get their feet wet. What would happen if you were to graduate with a degree, but then learn that you hated the job once you got it? You would have essentially just blown almost a hundred grand in an education. But if you had done an internship and learned that you hated the job, you could have changed your major to something else and saved a great deal of money and grief.Internships may scare students away because they can be tedious and almost never pay, but they are valuable, if not essential, career tools. The job market is changing; jobs yet to be invented will open up in the near future. Internships will be prerequisites for these jobs. So before you take a job at Eat’n Park when May rolls around, instead look for career-oriented internships. This may cost more in the short term, but the sacrifice will seem worthwhile later on.