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Importance of College Internships

Innovative Internships: Getting What You Want Is Up to You

As a college student at a school with an ineffective career center, it's up to you to find interesting internships that would build your resume for a competitive job market upon graduation. Interning is important because it allows you to test a handful of different career paths and helps you identify your talents. Not to mention the invaluable connections that serve as references for your first real-world employer, and may even become part of your personal board of directors. But what if you just can't seem to track down an internship that suits your distinct interests? To find out what some ambitious students have been doing just

The Wall Street Journal profiled a few very motivated students who actually created their own internships. While it's rare that college students know exactly what they want to do (at least I didn't), these unique individuals couldn't find what they were looking for and developed their own internship ideas. Think of it like schools who let you create your own major, or if you were allowed to develop your own job description at work.

One college junior created an internship that allowed her to combine her love for hip-hop music with her interest in helping children. She tried finding something she'd enjoy among formal internship programs, and after not being able to find a match she sent letters to eight non-profits. None of these organizations had a formal intern program but one took her on (stipend included) based on the position she had outlined.

What would have been (or could be) the perfect internship for you?


Join The Conversation
a1stbornunicorn a1stbornunicorn 9 years
I certainly wouldn't discredit unpaid internships. I interned in the Creative Services department at KHCW39 (formerly the WB)in Houston two summers in a row. While they were unpaid, I was able to produce promotions and news topicals that ran on network television in the one of the nation's top 10 markets. The amount of experience I gained there was incredible, they really urged me to complete as many projects as I wished. I developed close bonds with my mentors that will become amazing networking opportunities later in life. I walked away with a professional reel, and I haven't even graduated yet. I know I have a definite edge over my potential competition. Sometimes going after a paycheck can blind you to the real value of an opportunity and limit your scope.
syako syako 9 years
where is the 10% statistic from? I just find it to be really low. And I still disagree. A company gets my time and they need to compensate me even if it's minimum wage.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
Just to add to syako's comment: only about 10% of internships are paid. For large corporations, non-profits, or small organizations, money is not seen as something to bring in students. The large corporations know that plenty of students will come work for them for free, while non-profits and small organizations don't typically have the money. I was involved in a lot of internships when I was in college, but the most salient one was working at a non-profit law firm that dealt with children's rights. It was an amazing experience and one that I definitely had to search for by myself. Going to UCLA, which is in an affluent neighborhood, I had to take initiative to find opportunities (other than community service) to help the public with legal aid. This meant getting in touch with places in downtown LA. Although the internship wasn't paid at first, they really liked me and when I said I would have to leave to look for a paid job, they actually opened up a paid position for me until the end of college. So while most internships don't offer monetary support, a good job can lead to future job opportunities within the company or the field.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I found that my internships didn't help me at all...I have a bachelor's in international business and finance, so all my internships were in finance. I realized that I didn't want to stick in that field after completing those internships, and now i'm having a tough time getting into other industries because they take one look at my resume and think i'm not creative enough because of my finance background. It sucks.
will205 will205 9 years
i am trying to get an internship right now and it's hard - but i hope to prove victorious with one that pays this summer!
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I would also suggest looking at some non-traditional companies. I can tell you that the sportswear company I work for has so many opportunities in areas you wouldn't even know existed and if you show some creativity they sometimes will create a spot just for you!
melizzle melizzle 9 years
Rini, you should try looking at some agencies that focus on PR for hi-tech and science companies... you would be a huge asset to them with your knowledge!
syako syako 9 years
and I want to add one more thing, all of my career advisers at my college advised us to never EVER take an unpaid internship - since it perpetuates this cycle of free labor.
syako syako 9 years
I guess I sort of created my own internship. (Rini, this may help you!!) I needed a job desperately when I was a sophomore so I applied to all these internships in my field (mass communication/journalism/pr) but I also applied to some other jobs that were more "standard student worker" jobs like filing, etc. I ended up getting one of the standard jobs, and I started working closely with the communications director (even though he wasn't my boss technically). I'd go and talk to him every day, tell him about projects I was working on at school, discuss his everyday tasks etc. Eventually he started giving me some small tasks that could help him out and when he saw I was talented and knew what I was doing in the mass communication field, he "stole" me from my other boss and created a "communications intern" position just for me. When I left there (at the end of my classwork for my Master's degree) they actually did a huge search for another communications intern, they recognized that there really was a need for a communication intern in their company.
Rini Rini 9 years
Hi Savvy, I'm in a slightly different issue where I'm about to graduate from a top engineering school but wanting to do something entirely different! I'm earning a biology major from MIT but am really interested in Public Relations. What I've been doing is searching for internships for recent graduates as well as for entry-level positions that may not be exactly what I'm looking for but would help me get a foot in. I've also been asking those around me (sorority sisters, sorority alumnae, people I work with when planning the Senior Ball) for their thoughts. Being an unexpected applicant may mean you have to invest more in the job search (or creation) but if its something you thrive on, then that makes all the difference.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
Luckily for me, in order to graduate in our major you had to of complete an approved internship of a certain number of hours completed. Though it wasn't an intership I didn't like any of the electives in my major senior year (or had taken them) so I needed one more, so I was allowed to create my own course. I had to write it all out what I was going to do. It was sweet.
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 9 years
My Mom and I were actually talking about this last night Savvy. I'm currently working on getting my degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology so my mom said I should try to get an internship for the local police force here or work at a psychologist's office. I need to stop procrastinating. :NINJA:
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