With a new school year approaching and summer vacation coming to an end, Cal Poly Pomona students continue to embark on one of the most important educational experiences during their college careers: internships.
Internships are a great source for students to seek hands-on experience in their future job fields and to obtain invaluable knowledge that pertains to those careers.
William Atienza, a third-year sociology student, is an intern for the College of Business Administration’s behavioral research lab. The internship revolves around market research for small businesses in the area, but for Atienza, it is an opportunity to learn.
“I’m learning something that I haven’t learned yet,” said Atienza. “It’s a good way to increase your network.”
In addition to learning, Atienza explained that internships are also a great way to determine whether a particular career path is the right one.
“Internships are not on a grade basis. It forces you to be self-motivated if you actually want to be a meaningful contributor,” stated Atienza. “It also removes the extra stress of feeling pressured to do well”those two together allows the intern to feel free to explore a new field of study or put their knowledge to application to see if that is what they’d like to do.”
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2009 Experiential Educational Survey, 67.7 percent of interns in 2007-08 were offered full-time positions.
Research also indicates that students who participate in internships are more likely to find future employers, increase employee-retention rate and enhance new perspectives. In addition, employers regard internships as more favorable than GPA or academic proficiency.
Naomi Alexander, a third-year political science student, was selected to participate in the Panetta Institute’s Congressional Internship Program. She described the process as long, yet rewarding.
“I figured this was the opportunity to learn more about a different option,” said Alexander. “It was a really long and, honestly, a nerve-racking process.”
After she finished her interview with CPP President Soraya M. Coley and passed the final interview round in April, Alexander stated that she did not think she was going to get it, but decided to keep pushing forward and was ecstatic to hear that she was chosen as one of the nominees.
Alexander attributed her success to her initiative and sources available at CPP.
“You should definitely utilize your resources, but sometimes people have to take initiative,” said Alexander. “It’s all for the experience because there’s some things you can’t learn in a classroom, even at Cal Poly”and most of the time, because you are prepared ahead of time, you’ll be able to plan and thrive and actually see if you want to do that profession.”
Internships are immensely beneficial for both students and employers.
An internship allows for interns to test drive their potential as a future employee, helps employers run their organizations more efficiently and provides a new scope of networking in the field.
Fourth-year biology student, Zach Trindade, reflected upon his experience in his career field.
“For pre-medical students, they don’t really intern; they shadow doctors,” said Trindade. “So, they either spend time around doctors and just learn by watching them to get exposure.”
Trindade stated that even for an occupation such as medicine, internships are proven to be insightful and beneficial.
“It was very helpful because it helps to understand what type of medicine you want to do,” said Trindade. “Having hands-on work helps you understand if you want to do this in the future or if I’ll even like this because I know that I like medicine, but I don’t know if I will like to apply it or if I can.”
There are many ways that students at CPP can look for the right internship.
Asking professors or advisors about opportunities can open the door for potential internships in a particular career field. In addition, CPP’s Career Center contains a wide range of tools for students to utilize in preparation for an internship.
The Career Center offers help with drafting a resume or a cover letter, conducts mock interviews with a career counselor and even provides students with appropriate attire for future interviews.
During the academic school year, the Career Center showcases seven career fairs. These fairs are not only designed to create an interpersonal environment for students and potential employers, but are created to help students learn more about the opportunities available to them.