Stepping into the real world

Ann Kopecky

Ann Kopecky

The hunt is on and it’s not deer or pheasants that students are after.

No, the hunt for internships has begun as SDSU students aim to find a related job experience in their majors.

“The more they are thinking ahead about this and the more they realize how important this is, it’s going to pay off in the long run,” Susan Fredrikson, SDSU employment development director, said.

Even though most internships occur during the junior and senior years, Fredrikson encourages students to start looking for jobs as freshmen and sophomores.

Before beginning the search for internships, students should consult their advisors to see if an internship is required in their major, Fredrikson said.

Requirements For Internships at SDSU

All of the colleges, except the College of General Registration, require or highly recommend some kind of experience in the major.

In the Colleges of Nursing and Engineering, internships are not required but are highly recommended.

“If they want to do an internship, they can get academic credit,” Dr. Rich Reid, associate dean of engineering, said.

Reid points out the difference between an internship and a summer job is that internships need to have academic components.

“Just about every student in engineering gets a summer job in engineering but typically you’re not going to just get credit for getting a job,” Reid said.

For those required to complete an internship, the credits can make a difference in graduating.

Pharmacy students need to complete 44 credits of experiential activity to meet their internship requirements.

“Those experiences enable them to be ready to practice,” Dr. Brian Kaatz, acting dean of the College of Pharmacy, said.

The internship, Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences, is not just one single experience but consists of 10 different rotations.

“At the conclusion of that year, they are ready to be licensed, practiced pharmacists,” Kaatz said.

While some colleges require internships, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences require students in some majors to complete a practicum.

According to Dr. Jane Hegland, department head of apparel merchandising and interior design, both majors require a practicum.

For apparel merchandising, the practicum is usually completed during the fall semester of the student’s senior year. Interior design practicums typically occur during the summer before the senior year.

“They essentially get a position at a place that is acceptable to the student, the employer and the faculty,” Hegland said.

Hegland also said that most of the interns receive on the job training and are paid.

Half of the students enter the Brookings or Sioux Falls area for the interior design practicum, while the other half go farther away, Hegland said.

“It’s their time to break away from the area and learn something new,” Hegland said.

Other colleges also stress that internships are an important time for students to get out in the real world.

The Colleges of Agriculture and Biology, Arts and Science, and Education either require or recommend that students complete internships in the various majors within each college.

After the student knows what is required of them for their major, preparing for the internship is the next process.

Steps To Finding an Internship

According to Fredrikson, the first step is networking.

“Network-ing is looking at your circle of contacts and thinking about where you can get info,” Fredrikson said.

Family, faculty, members of organizations the student belongs to, previous work experiences, and friends can help the student to find opportunities for an internship.

The next step is to identify places that they would like to do an internship, Fredrikson said.

“If there is an employer, they’re interested in, it would be a good idea for the students to contact them,” Fredrikson said.

Once the student has narrowed some places down, he or she may then want to complete an information interview. The purpose of the information interview is not to ask for a job, but to gather information and broaden the scope of ideas for the student’s experience.

The last step is to approach employees.

Fredrikson suggests taking a resume and doing some homework ahead of time to find information about the organization.

“You kind of have to be ready to sell yourself to the employer,” Fredrikson said. “You’ve got to make them understand they need you.”

Before interviewing for a position, Fredrikson recommends that the student consider what they want to get out of the internship and the jobs they are willing to do to complete an internship.

“They need to be flexible. They might end up doing things not so glamorous,” Fredrikson said. “It’s part of the internship.”

Help is Out There

Besides working on their own, Fredrikson said the student can receive help in finding an internship and preparing for one from various organizations on campus.

The student CAP center provides workshops, one-on-one assistance and a Web site that assists students in searching for jobs.

Many of the Colleges also put on fairs and career days to support students in finding a related job experience.

The College of Ag and Bio, Engineering, Nursing and Pharmacy put on events to assist students in finding internships and permanent jobs.

“All of these fairs are fantastic opportunities for students to meet employers,” Fredrikson said.

Besides the preparation and assistance the student can receive on campus, they also need to prepare themselves in finding an internship.

“The earlier you start preparing, the easier it’s going to be,” Fredrikson said.