Internship and Cooperative Education: Preparation + Opportunity, Still the Best Formula for Success

Article excerpt

There has been a lot of doom and gloom about the American economy and job opportunities. You only need to turn on the TV, read time headlines, or talk to friends who are eager to tell you how difficult it is to find employment. And we have all gotten numb to headlines about company downsizing, right sizing, layoffs, take-overs, and recession-unemployment numbers. If you're an undergraduate, you may be wondering right about now whether attending college is worth anything or whether you will ever get a satisfying job after graduation. A college degree makes you considerably more marketable than yon would be without one, and even in a tough and competitive marketplace, a college degree gives you more opportunities for growth than not having a degree does. Eventually, sectors of the marketplace will recover. As a student, you must plan for the ups and downs of the marketplace. However, your best line of defense for whatever lies ahead begins with strong academic preparation supported by practical experience.

A Two-Part Plan For Success

Discipline at school translates into discipline at work. For most nationally known companies, strong academic preparation means majors that are relevant to the industry and a "'B" or better cumulative average. It's important to work on getting good grades early in your academic life because grades are calculated on a formula: The more credit you accumulate, the more difficult it is to raise your cumulative average. Be committed to high academic performance early by factoring in study time, tutoring, instructor conferences, and study groups. If you're staying on the straight and narrow path to academic success, that's great, and it's a first step in the right direction.

Secondly, consider a hands on experience as part of your plan. Employers want to see resumes with one or two work-related experiences. Internships demonstrate your willingness to invest in your own future and show employers that you have a proactive plan for career success. More important, they allow you to assess your strengths and weaknesses in work related to your career interests. Time practical experience can also provide you with first hand knowledge of the skills employers want and their expectations for career success in the field. Hands on experience is a great a way to determine whether you're on the right career-track.

Getting Started

Practical experience can be acquired in a number of different ways. The most popular means are cooperative education, internship, practicum, and work-study abroad. To find out whether your campus has one of these programs contact the campus career center or your major department.

Finding the right type of practical experience can often be challenging, but doing so is very rewarding. If your academic major has a mandatory internship program, you will probably get assistance from the department. The career center may also post practical experience opportunities for students in the department and on their web site. You can also do your own research by contacting professional organizations and doing an Internet search for nationally known intern programs and corporations. Here are a few sites to begin your search:

* AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS PUBLISHERS www.ascap.com

* AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA LEAGUE www.symphony.com

* CBS RADIO NEWS http://www.cbsnewyork.com/jobs

* CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. http://www.cisco.com/college/intern -co-op_program.shtml

* COLUMBIA RECORDS www.sony.com

* CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS http://www.cbcfinc.org/

* CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE http://www. …