Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Colleges Develop Internships across Majors and Borders

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Colleges Develop Internships across Majors and Borders

Article excerpt

The popularity' of internships has led many institutions to expand these programs beyond traditional majors, such as business, to include almost every field of study. Students who major in English and art are now finding themselves pushed to gain professional experience through internships as part of their degree requirements. They arc working for academic credit at small publishing houses, arts education organizations, and public relations firms.

In addition, colleges are encouraging students to expand their boundaries and gain valuable experience by doing an internship abroad.

While internships have long been seen as an effective way to supplement classroom learning, the current growth is due in part to a tough job market in which having a degree is just not enough. As one analyst said, "employers are looking for more than a good GPA."

As a result, institutions such as Ciarkson University in upstate New York have taken the internship to a new level by making it a prerequisite for graduation. Ciarkson was ranked No. 1 for having the highest rate (86 percent) of graduating seniors with internship experience in the most recent U.S. News & World Report survey. Of the 330 ranked colleges and universities that reported internship data to U.S. News in 2012, an average of 36.9 percent of students held internships ai some point in their undergraduate studies.

"We mandate a professional experience for all of our students so that before entering the marketplace or their postgraduate plans, they have some type of real-world experience," said Jeffrey Taylor, career center director at Ciarkson. "Internships are the hallmark of the student's experience."

Ciarkson is not alone, Longwood University in Virginia, with an enrollment of 4,800, is one of the schools requiring internships as part of the student's degree program. Longwood distinguishes internships from volunteerism or simple work-forpay, such as after-class or summer jobs. It describes internships as a structured and supervised professional experience at an approved site, for which the student will gain experience and earn academic credit. Officials say the internship allows the student an opportunity to experience the working world in order to solidify career goals and/or to test possible career choices. For example, Cassie Shiflett, a 2013 graduate majoring in anthropology, did an internship at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum in Florida to test her interest in mar- Îtime archaeology.

It is 1101 just small schools that -.ire encouraging students to partake in internships. Clemson University, with an undergraduate enrollment of 16,000, is ranked as one of the top 10 schools with the highest percentage of students who hold internships. In recent years, 67 percent of Clemson's graduating seniors did an internship or co-op position before graduation.

"Our entire university is committed to making education matter," said Neil Burton, executive director of career services at Clemson. "Faculty, staff and administrators are all pulling in the same direction to make sure that what our students are learning has relevance to their personal and professional success."

Burton says it reflects the concept of engaged learning, which is a priority at Clemson.

"We want to miike sure that education is pertinent to students, not just an academic exercise that stays in the classroom," he said.

Many students are doing multiple internships and traveling to other countries to gain a global credential. Westminster College in Missouri has sent students to Peru, Finland and Mozambique. This year, Westminster students will go to Thailand, Rwanda and Grand Cayman,

At Trinity University in San Antonio, internships have been offered abroad in Spain for the last eight years. Students who take advantage of this opportunity not only boost their employment outlook hut they come back "profoundly changed" by the experience, says Dr. Mario González-Fuentes, visiting assistant professor of marketing at Trinity, who participates in the annual summer program in Madrid . …

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