College internships are essential to your future

Emily Pagel

As a high school student, I was always told the key to being accepted to college was extracurricular activities. Admission offices wouldn’t take a second glance at my application if they didn’t see that I was involved in sports, band and massive amounts of volunteer experiences.

Emily Pagel: News Editor
Emily Pagel: News Editor

While this is great advice for students to get out and be involved in their school and communities, it had little effect on me applying to NMU.

Now, five years later at NMU, I am told internships are the only way I will be qualified enough to find a career in my field after college. While I don’t want to argue these comparisons are much in the same, internships are a great opportunity.

I didn’t believe that internships would really give me the edge I needed to find a job.

Internships in themselves are a great idea. Getting to work at a big label for six-to-nine months gives students real world experience at a potential future employer.

But are internships really worth it? I heard many horror stories about students participating in unpaid internships; being the coffee girl for six months and filing papers late at night, not receiving any prevalent experience. I dreaded the day when I’d have to participate in an internship only to find out that I would be doing busy work for a high up.

According to the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) study on internships, 63.1 percent of students with a paid internship received at least one job offer during their graduating year.

The NACE also found that students who participated in paid internships earned an average of $1,000 more than students who were unpaid interns and the starting salary of paid interns was around $14,000, higher than both.

Coming from a small town and moving to the U.P. has secluded me from having such a big experience. I feel blessed that Northern gives students opportunities to partake in internships on campus and in the community (often being paid).

Marquette may be a small town but it is filled with rich opportunities if you’re willing to search for them.

If you’re willing to stay in town, work for a smaller organization and continue your schooling, Marquette is an ample place to receive experience without being shipped to New York and underpaid (if paid at all).

I took a semester off in 2011 to pursue an internship at Walt Disney World. While my time there was enjoyable, the experience had little to do with my major. It was a great experience, but it really wasn’t a resume builder.

Sure, having a big corporation on your resume is eye-catching, but only to the extent of the abilities you learn while you’re there.

My time with The North Wind and Public Eye News have already given me a step up in my career field. I learn hands on every day what it means to be a journalist, even if I’ve only been there for a short period of time.

We are lucky here at NMU to have departments that are willing to expose students to these opportunities. For example the Communications and Performance Studies department allows students to intern at Public Eye News, running everything from cameras, anchoring and audio work to writing and producing stories. The business department also offers internships for students with local businesses for accounting and marketing.

Internships are great ways for students to put what they’ve learned in the classroom into real world experience. Doing what you love while getting experience in your field can be very rewarding when the opportunity arises.