During the month of April, the Career Center at Concordia College is celebrating National Internship Awareness Month. The Career Center wants to emphasize the importance of completing an internship to appeal to employers after graduation.
Jill Wenger, associate director of the Career Center, has been managing employer relations and aiding students in their internships. She teaches the class titled, “Internship for PEAK.” Students can request to take internships for credit or for PEAKs or in some cases, they can do it for both.
“We are helping them build connections, career readiness skills, and grow and develop their strengths,” said Wenger.
No summer school charges are made when students take this course, and internship credits count just like any course credit.
Around 200 students intern each year. This number includes those who are doing internships for credits, for PEAKs, or for both. This number does not include the students who are not receiving credits or PEAKs for their internships.
Wenger explains that if students take internships for credit, they work with a faculty advisor, and if they take it for PEAK, she is the one that oversees that process.
Wenger explains that 49% of employers are more likely to hire a candidate who completed at least one internship during college.
“Employers look for real-world experience, even over GPA, even over courses taken,” she explains. “When you can show an employer that you have had actual practice in the working world and you can take those skills and apply it to a new job that is more relevant and desirable than a high GPA in some cases.”
She also describes how 65.4% of paid interns were offered jobs upon completion whereas 30% of unpaid interns were offered jobs.
“We want all students to find an internship, a paid internship, because we know that the outcome matters when it comes to job offers, higher starting salary after graduation,” Wenger said.
Gerianna Miller is a social work major with a double minor in psychology and sociology. She found her summer internship for last year at a tableing event in the atrium. Her internship was through the Swenseid Scholarship program, which connects six Concordia students to local organizations that support women and children.
“I was drawn to the program because it aligns well with my social work values and I would be able to get experience related to my future,” said Miller.
She worked with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in nonprofit. This charity in particular houses families with children living in the hospital.
Miller said, “I don’t think [internships] are needed to be successful, but I think they are beneficial. You gain a lot from internships, whether that is finding out about your major, the internship itself, and yourself. It gives you a lot of knowledge.”
Devin O’Harra is a double major in social work and psychology. She completed an internship the summer after her freshman year at the Ronald McDonald House.
She learned about the inner workings of the nonprofit world. From finding out how they get their funding to how they run on a day to day basis, she was able to gather lots of information from one summer internship.
“I realized that as much as I loved working with the families there, I am more inclined to work more closely with the kids, and I want to go into more of that childcare work,” O’Harra said.
Finally, Riley Fiske has majors in math, computer science, data science and has a minor in German. Although he has only completed one internship, he remarks that there are a lot of things he can go into after graduation, and that is where the importance of internships comes in for him. The internship is a way for him to explore different career options for a brief period of time.
Last summer, he completed an internship at Medtronic as a statistician. He worked with a variety of different medical equipment and used statistics to answer questions.
“No internship is perfect, but overall it was a very good experience and put me into the real world into what work is going to look like after graduation,” said Fiske.
This summer, he is headed over to Germany to be a research intern at the University of Munich.
Fiske recommends just going for the internship. The worst that can happen is they say no, and then you keep applying; eventually something will land.
The career center offers one-on-one appointments with career coach who can help students find internship opportunties. Handshake is an app that also posts internship listings at Concordia and locally.