Career Advising at EOU

Why Do An Internship?

Employers hire interns
Employers sponsor internship and co-op programs to identify, test, groom and recruit candidates.  Internship and co-operative educational programs are increasingly popular as a recruiting tool.  In a recent NACE survey, eighty five percent of employers across all hiring sectors reported that they sponsored experiential learning opportunities.  More than 98 percent of those use them to recruit for their work forces. (NACE 1999 Experiential Education Benchmark Survey)

Employers want relevant work experience in their new hires
Employers prize work experience in candidates.  Even short-term or volunteer work is valued by potential employers, who see your skills, interest in/knowledge of a career field, and your accomplishments (both academic and non-academic) as indicators of your ability to contribute and succeed.  Among those offering experiential learning programs, the trend is toward hiring program participants in increasing numbers.  On average, employers hired just over 20 percent of their former co-op and intern students.

Career confirmation
Do you really know you want to be an “X” until you’ve worked in the actual setting and had exposure to people actually doing the type of work you imagine?  Classroom learning experience and actual work experience are two very different things.  You will make a wiser career  choice by “testing” a career field before graduation.
Some experiential settings require interns to be upperdivision or graduate students because a certain level of knowledge is needed.  Many allow college students to apply regardless of their class standing.  Begin as early as you can in order to get as much career-related experience as possible before graduation.

Everybody’s doing it 
Famous parental line: ” If your friends were going to jump off a cliff, would you follow them over the edge?”  Well, in this case maybe, “Yes.”  Employers reported that nearly 51 percent of those hired from the Class of ’98 had internship experience, up from 46 percent a year before.  Internships are the trend.

Eastern Oregon University would like every student to engage in some form of applied learning as he or she works to acquire a degree.  Several terms are used to describe this: internship, practicum, student teaching, clinical experience, co-operative education, field placement, service learning, volunteer experience, capstone.  Call it what you will, the main premise is to apply academic learning to a practical setting and reflect upon the interplay between the two.

Internships  - A supervised practical work experience wherein students learn by taking on the responsible roles as workers in an organization and observing and reflecting on what happens.  Supervision is provided for the student at the place of assignment by a designated on-site supervisor.  If academic credit is a desired outcome, a  faculty member further supervises and evaluates the student’s progress in a manner which is mutually agreed upon BEFORE the learning experience begins and usually takes the form of a learning contract.  Internships can be paid or unpaid.

Cooperative Education - A structured learning program that allows students an opportunity to work and study.  Students may alternate periods of work and study or conduct both simultaneously. Participants are usually paid.   Typically a formalized program exists between the academic institution and the employer.

Field Study and Practicum -  Academically-credited field experiences designed to meet specific academic objectives.  Can be required as part of criteria for a major.

Service Learning - “A method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully-organized service that:  is conducted in and meets the needs of a community; is coordinated with an institution of higher education and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of the students enrolled; and includes structured time for students to reflect on the service experience.”  (AAHE)
Desired Outcomes

The primary reason for participating in an applied learning activity is to apply academic knowledge in a practical setting.  It is possible to receive academic credit for these experiences and it would be prudent to explore how that is achieved in your academic area.  Some positions receive financial compensation.

Getting paid

The extent of compensation is to be arranged by the student and the host in accordance with institutional policy and state laws.  The contract for academic credit is between the student and the department; the contract for work and compensation is between the student and the host.

The basic guideline between internship hours and academic credit is based on a minimum of 3 hours per week for each credit earned.  For example, a 3-credit practicum would require a minimum of 90 hours of work related to the practicum (in a ten-week term).

Each academic program will stipulate a maximum number of practicum credits that may be applied toward major requirements. Discuss this with your advisor and sponsoring faculty member.

Complete a written learning contract with stated learning objectives before your experience begins (available from Cornerstone Experience Office and Career Advising.  Your activity must have prior departmental and faculty approval.

Arranging an Internship

      Some internship programs are tried and tested and wrapped in neat little packages.  You pick up the information, follow the instructions and apply like you would a job.

Other TREMENDOUS opportunities are not obvious but happen because YOU pursue your specific interests.

Where do you start your search?

On its website, Career Services lists internship opportunities and links to other websites.  The Career Services Resource Library has books and directories with information and ideas.

Discuss your goals and preferences with faculty in your major.  Explore with them their network of people and programs to see if they can match an experience with your unique interests.

Utilize your network of family, friends and acquaintances to explore opportunities.

Things to consider in your search

Select an experience that closely matches what you want your future job or career to be like.  Find a company or a person who is doing what it is you want to be doing.  If you are not sure what you want to be doing, find an internship that will offer a variety of experiences in your area of general interest.

Investigate your site options as completely as you can.  Make an on-site visit and meet the people involved whenever possible.  Talk with current interns about their experience.

Prepare yourself financially.  Arrange in advance the finances needed to support yourself especially if you temporarily relocate for your experience.  If possible, try not to work another job during your internship so you can devote your full attention to the position.

Work like your career depended on it.  Give it all you’ve got.  Think of your internship as an extended job interview. You might want the organization to be so impressed with you that they want to hire you for any future openings or create a job in order to keep you.

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Eastern Oregon University