UMSL Business Blog

The importance of internships for undergraduate students

Peggy Gilbertson
Internship Coordinator
UMSL |Business


Very few undergraduate students have jobs lined up while they are students unless they know they will work for a family business.  This is what makes getting involved in as many internships as possible while still a student so important.   Students should realize that they should start building that resume as soon as possible once they are in college in order to make them stand out and be put on the top of the stack when recruiters are comparing the dozens (or even hundreds) of resumes they may receive for one opening.

Statistics from the NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey indicate that the 67% of the graduating class of 2013 had at least one internship while in school and 32% had at least two. All students should want to be in that second group!  Many employers look at their internship class first when they are hiring since there is already a familiarity with the student.   This same survey states that 64.8% of employers made fulltime offers to their current interns.

Having the opportunity to work for an organization using skills learned in school while still in school is priceless.  The even better news is that almost all Business internships are paid, and those that aren’t are typically very flexible in working around a student’s schedule and other part-time job hours.  Even if an internship is not paid, the benefit is that you hopefully have a great reference for future jobs and an opportunity to get another internship that would be paid.  Students as early as sophomores can easily find unpaid internships which could lead to 2 or 3 more paid internships before they graduate.

Having “real world” experience not only makes a student more marketable but helps a student determine if they really are on the right career path.  I have seen many instances of students who report back to me after they have completed an internship that they are so glad they found out while still a student that the field they thought they wanted to get into is not what they really thought it would be.   If they still have several semesters left before graduation, it is much easier to change emphasis areas than having graduated and possibly having to return to school for another degree.

And to top it all off, many students are eligible to receive academic credit for an internship.  Who wouldn’t want to take one less class and not have homework and tests and in most cases get paid at the same time!