Internships: necessary or nah?

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By MICHAEL CRAIG
Staff Writer

The CEO of a major corporation arrives late to work, as he often times does, dressed in an expensive black suit and a pair of thousand dollar sunglasses. He is a bit hung-over from his careless night out on the town the evening before, and he needs a cup of coffee immediately. Instead of going to get it himself, he gets his usual inspirational idea. He looks at the intern following him around like a puppy dog and snaps his fingers rudely. “I need a cup of coffee, lots of cream. You know how I like it.” The intern nods her head, and like some indentured servant, she goes to do as she is told with a smile on her face.

This is the image of internships that people are accustomed to, a picture painted into Americans’ minds by countless outlets. Movies, books and stereotypical thinking depict the title of “intern” to be one of slave-like, meaningless busy labor that does not further anyone in any way whatsoever. Although you can be sure that some interns are indeed taken advantage of in this way, this is not the entire truth.

All across America, opportunities for experience and growth lay patiently in the form of internships for people to take advantage of. Whether you are an aspiring businessman or woman, a future broadcaster or a farmhand in the making, the amount of opportunities out there is simply staggering. But why should anyone pay any attention to this?

Well, for starters, it is statistically proven that college students with an internship under their belts and on their resumes coming out of college are more likely to be on the fast track for employment. According to Forbes Magazine, people who have had an internship, both paid and unpaid, are 60 percent more likely to get a job coming out of college.

This, however, is not the only value found in these adventures into the job realm. Jennifer Arbitter, a mass communications professor at Piedmont and a former broadcasting employer herself, shed a different light of importance on the subject. Up until the last decade or so, Arbitter was head of a news broadcasting station, and during her time there, she employed many interns. Despite the future job opportunities that internships often allow, she found the experience itself to be valuable for another reason entirely.
“Sometimes through internships you find that the job is just not what you want to do with life,” Arbitter said. “Students often have a romanticized idea of what the job that they’ve chosen is like, and many times it is not what they pictured.”

This concept is accurate, as Forbes also stated that over 20 percent of internships result in the intern deciding to choose a different career to pursue.
Due to these factors, among others, internships are valuable to college students everywhere. Real experience is often worth far more than any grade sheet or prior idea of what employment is actually like. So why put off getting your feet wet? The old saying, “don’t knock it until you try it,” rings true here. Perhaps, though, in the case of internships, it should be modified to, “don’t choose it until you try it,” and then the expression’s truth would apply even more, and maybe, we would see more to an internship than a coffee slave with nothing to gain and everything to lose.