While emphasis on experiential learning at Knox has made students flock to the Career Center for information on internships over the years, satisfying a graduation requirement is certainly not the only reason students spend hours writing resumes and cover letters. Although students are applying for internships in a multitude of career areas, there are definitely trends in the factors motivating individuals to pursue specific internships.
Sophomore Jenna Temkin said, “I didn’t go into this intending to get the experiential learning credit out of the way, but it’s a nice thing to have.”
Knox College sophomore Emily Berarducci describes the value of a possible internship in publishing by saying, “Getting an internship at a publishing house can definitely get you a foot in the door.”
The Center for Career and Pre-Professional Development at Knox College often serves as a resource facility for students assessing their internship options. While students seem to have different perspectives on the Career Center’s role at Knox, it was originally intended to help students integrate experiential learning into their education in the broadest sense.
When Temkin discussed the matter of approaching an internship, she said, “Before I talked to Terrie Saline, I had already started on my resume, but she gave me helpful advice. She told me to apply to 15 different internships. Hearing that was overwhelming, but there are only so many position openings.”
Berarducci expressed a different viewpoint in her experience utilizing the Career Center for internships. Although information on writing cover letters and preparing resumes was accessible, Berarducci said, “Knox wants students to take charge of the experience, but I feel like I could have been a lot more prepared.”
Certain aspects of embracing internship opportunities are not taught in the classroom setting. Temkin said, “Writing a cover letter or resume is not a skill that most college students have. It’s not like simply writing an essay.” Nevertheless, the college application process lends itself to a similar frame of thought, which Temkin addressed by saying, “Selling yourself to an employer is similar to selling yourself to college admissions officers.”
Regardless of how aware students are of the challenges posed by the career world, the process of applying for internships is nothing short of being academically rigorous in nature. Sophomore Melissa Sher describes her application experience as laborious. She said, “It’s difficult to balance schoolwork with applications in a timely fashion. Some things definitely got shortchanged because I needed to mail applications.”
The demands of an internship can give students an idea of the labors associated with a particular career. Senior Robert Cashen characterized an internship as “a trial run of the job.”
Even though the integration of experiential learning into the series of graduation requirements may influence students to look for an internship related to their career field of interest, some students feel that it is not imperative that their internship aligns itself with specific career goals. While addressing the spectrum of her internship options, Sher said, “I applied for two internships. One relates to a potential career field, the other less directly. While having an internship in your chosen field works wonders on improving your resume and knowledge of the field, I don’t feel it necessary as long as you are passionate about the position.”
In fact, Temkin is taking her application process as an opportunity to find out what career areas she would like to pursue. On the issue of using an internship to narrow her focus on potential careers, Temkin said, “I don’t currently have specific career goals, so I thought an internship would be an interesting way to explore different career paths.”
While some Knox underclassmen seek internship opportunities to explore the diversity of career options open to them, Cashen found his scientific shadowing experience to confirm his interest in the medical field. Cashen said, “That experience was what made me really want to become a family doctor. I like the smaller scale things. You get a chance to really know the patients and form longer term relationships with the people.”
Sophomore Katie Baer, who worked as a digital intern over the summer, echoes a similar mentality through insight derived from her experiential learning experience. She said, “I would definitely do another internship in a career area that I’d want to pursue. I just have to figure out what that is first.”
Whether or not an internship confirms a student’s interest in a particular field of study, Berarducci communicates the overall value of an internship when she says, “An internship is a good opportunity to examine other peoples’ work and the process it takes to get to a finished state, and then applying it to your own work.”