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Early October marked the end of 8-week courses or the mid-mark for 16-week courses — either way, you probably enjoyed a lavish getaway during Fall Break.  No? Okay, maybe you just enjoyed a short break from school to regroup and prepare for classes to rev back up.  If you are a Senior, you might have graduation on your mind and are looking towards the exciting things to come within the next year.

For all students, those close to graduation and those who are years away, it is important to start gaining relevant work experience.  This can come in multiple ways, but for  those students with little professional background, an internship can be the answer.

Why do I need an internship or relevant work on my resume?

One word – experience.  Envision that you are headed into the hospital for a serious procedure, checked-in to registration, and rolling back to the room where surgeries are performed when the doctor comes in.  They begin describing how they were so giddy to be finished with exams and the chance for their first surgery to prove themselves.

Luckily medical students are required to undergo years of real-life experience that allows them to learn beyond books BUT shouldn’t we all look to utilize internships and other types of relevant experience to fine tune our skills?

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There is a tremendous difference in job hunting for those that graduate with relevant work experience versus someone that has never proven themselves capable, an employer must simply take their word for it that they will be a good candidate.  (Hint: Avoid this approach at all cost.) 

Where do I start and how do I find an internship?

There are endless avenues that you can take to find an internship.  A search on Hire A Pirate, Internships.com, Internmatch.com, or LinkedIn is a start. From there, see what connections you might have to positions you are interested in from Park alumni, professors, and or personal relationships.

Finding an internship – even a job for that matter – can be overwhelming if you are going at it alone.  If you are having difficulties finding what you are looking for in an internship, contact the Career Development Center at careerdevelopment@park.edu. Wherever you are located, we are here to help connect you with great opportunities.

Paid? Class credit? How long do these things last?

All these questions are valid and my answer is that it depends.  The term “internship” can vary in what it means in terms of length, salary, and if it will be utilized for academic purposes.  The time period will depend on how long the internship program (or need) is for the organization, they can range from a semester, a summer, to a year.

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In the past few years, there have been regulations and changes whether or not a company must provide payment for an intern.  While these lines can be relatively blurry, two of the largest factors depend on how closely it aligns with what one might learn in an academic setting or if it’s sole purpose is to benefit the student. Many non-profit organizations and government agencies can be exempt from the payment regulations, whereas for-profit institutes have more funds to utilize, which means compensation for your time.

As far as class credit goes, you as the student will need to work with your advisor to enroll in an internship class within your academic program as well as secure the internship position itself. While the class structure can vary between departments, it often includes touching base with your supervisor to look at your development and personal reflection on the experience. Remember, the employers don’t award you class credit – the school does. So if you need an internship for your degree, make sure the school stays in the loop.

If you have any more questions about internships, don’t hesitate to reach out: careerdevelopment@park.edu.