By: Pablo Romero
If you’re a junior or senior, you have probably been asked if you have had an internship yet. Every year as summer approaches, many students get ready to start their journey into the corporate world and gain experiences and connections that will help them get ahead. However, sometimes students are unsure about internships, the hiring process, benefits and tradeoffs. Do internships really give you an edge? Are they worth it even if you are not paid?
“In Your Business”, the official podcast of UMSLBusiness, had a chat with a few people that have had different experiences with internships. Lisa Fikki, UMSL Internship Director with over 20 years of experience in the industry, talks about the help you can get at UMSL. Spencer Schmitt, a recent graduate who did not pursue an internship as an undergrad, talks about how that affected him. Finally, Taylor Ernst, a current student who has had multiple internships and is currently an HR intern with the St. Louis Blues, shares the experience he has had.
Even though they all have different views, all three agree that internships are really helpful and here are five reasons why internships matter.
- Gain formal experience
According to Lisa Fikki, internships provide students with the actual experience in their field. Most students only have the knowledge they have received at school, but they have never had experience in the office setting. Internships help students with this, and the more experience you have, the more confident you become, which helps you in the long run. The soft skills learned in the workplace can really give you an edge.
- Employers look for students
Internships are an opportunity for employers as well. Students tend to be open-minded and eager to get new experiences. This is why employers look for students for intern positions. They like to develop future employees while they’re “fresh”. Even though employers prefer students while they are still at school, it is fine if you get an internship post grad: It’s all about the experience that you are adding to your academic knowledge.
- Learn the little things
Spencer Schmitt talks about how he decided to skip an internship to make some money instead. He waited to just get a job after graduation, which worked out well for him, but he said he still feels that an internship would have added an edge to his experience. Internships help you get an insider look at the office life. There are many little things you learn as an intern, such as email and phone etiquette, formality, office life and even delegating and managing.
- Resume Builder
Students are always looking for ways to make their resume stand out. Having an internship on your resume does exactly that, as it shows you have had some experience under your belt, and you know how to act in the workplace.
- Confidence Booster
Not only do internships look good and give you great workplace experience, but they also build your confidence as a result. This confidence comes in handy during interviews, networking events, career fairs, etc. Taylor Ernst knows this first hand. He recalls how during his first phone interview with MasterCard he was nervous and couldn’t express himself the way he wanted. After some coaching from UMSL Career Services and going through a few interviews, he became more confident and was able to land a position with the St. Louis Blues.
- UMSL tools
Getting an internship while you are at UMSL is pretty easy if you really want to. Lisa Fikki highlights that the Office of Career Services offers everything from mock interviews and resume workshops, to etiquette banquets, which can help you get ready. They are a great asset if you are looking to land a summer internship.
Go here to listen to the full podcast.