USC Career Center offers students help in gaining real-world training
Internships are becoming necessary for students to obtain experience outside of the school environment, and more and more students are interning before graduating.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2010 graduates who participated in an internship program were more likely to have received a job offer than their peers.
“It gives students practical experience. It allows them to apply classroom learning outside of the classroom,” said Julie Hutt, USC’s assistant director for Experiential Education. “It’s also important because it makes them more marketable to employers.”
USC’s Career Center offers resources and assistance to students who decide to pursue internships. Hutt said the center helps students who are searching, applying or interviewing or who have already found internships. She recommended that students start their search six and a half months before they want to intern.
Beverley Dominick, the career services director for the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said more employers are offering for-credit-only internships. She said, legally, students have to get paid or earn academic credit, and if a student is getting credit, he or she is insured, so the company has no liability.
Dylan Summer, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student, has an internship at Pure Power Technologies, a Navastar company that tests fuel injectors for trucks.
“I started out with just busy work,” Summer said. “There was a big session of time when none of the tests had started yet, so I was building shelves and traveling between the plant and actual test center.”
Now that the tests have started, Summer spends his time at the internship plotting data, putting information into Microsoft Excel and analyzing data.
“It’s exactly what an internship is supposed to be,” Summer said. “It’s an introduction into the things I will be doing.”
Summer used Excel for lab reports in his classes and said he would be pretty lost if he hadn’t.
Dominick said the best time to start applying for internships is the second semester of a student’s sophomore year because at that point, a student has taken more classes pertaining to his or her major.
Brittney Nigro, a second-year advertising student, just started an internship as a style guru for College Fashionista, a website about fashion on college campuses. She started reading the website over winter break when it featured one of her friends from home and noticed that USC wasn’t represented.
“I sent my resume in on a whim, and it ended up working out,” Nigro said.
Nigro goes around campus, takes pictures of style trends she sees and writes about them once a week in a style advice column. She hopes the internship will benefit her career after she graduates from college.
“I’ve always considered going into the fashion industry with my major,” Nigro said. “I want to be a creative director. I think it will be good experience for me writing and getting stuff published.”
Dominick said internships are important because they help students decide if they are in the right major and give students professional experience before graduation that sets them up for a better first job.
Summer said his experience has helped him better comprehend the job.
“I understand the way things run in an engineering place a lot better,” Summer said.
Students desire experience that can’t be gained in an academic setting.
“I think it gives you good experience for the real world,” Nigro said. “You learn a lot [in college], but it isn’t the experience you need to be successful once you graduate.”