Are internships a necessity to have before entering a career?

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

To graduate from college, every student at SDSU has to have 128 credits under their belts. For Arts and Science college students, 30-some of those have to be upper credit classes. Then of course there are all the required classes every student has to take which basically seem to take up half your time here.

You’d think, with all these classes we are forced to take – many of which seem to have nothing to do with our majors or anything we’re even interested in – we would be taught everything we need to know for any career we’d ever want to take up.

If they did, though, why would many majors require internships?

The truth is, the classes don’t teach you squat beyond the basics and some of the bigger things you might need to know. Don’t get me wrong, those basics are important. Without those, you wouldn’t even be able to get a start. The minute you step out into the real world, though, if you don’t have any experience, it’s just as hard to get that start in almost any career. That need for experience is the reason why majors often require internships.

Even if your major doesn’t require an internship to graduate, it’s a really good idea to try and find one anyway. It’s not that impressive for a recent graduate’s résumé to only have the classes they’ve taken and a few odd jobs that have nothing to do with the job they are currently applying for.

As I am one of those overachievers who will have completed three different internships by the time I graduate, I thought I would give three important tips – or at least what I believe are important tips – for those searching for internships.

Number one, be straight and to the point on your résumé. Don’t waste words, but be complete in what you’re trying to say. Remember, you’re basically selling yourself through that piece of paper, so represent yourself well.

Number two, think about the references you list on your résumé. These people and what they might have to say about you could be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job. Don’t think you have to keep the same references for every job. If you have someone who would say good things about you who used to work for that company or knows someone who works there, list them.

Number three, follow up. This is very important to do. After you’ve submitted your résumé, wait a couple weeks and then call the employer or e-mail them and ask about the status of your résumé. You probably won’t get much of an answer – something along the lines of “It’s being processed” – but doing that only shows that you are very interested in the job and puts you ahead of all those other applicants who never followed up. After you get an interview, don’t forget to follow up as well, either with a thank-you card or a phone call a week later, again checking on the status of the internship. I know it’s a hassle sometimes, but it really only takes a few minutes, shows how much you want the job and puts you ahead of other people. I’m fully convinced that following up is part of the reason I got my second internship.