If you think that a college diploma is all you need to find a job, you need to rethink your plans right now. Your search will bring you to a harsh reality … it's difficult to get a good job without experience in a particular field, and you can't get experience until you've had a job.
Internships can be a great way to get a jump start on your career. Companies like to use interns because it gives them a way to get to know about you - to watch you perform and decide if they want to invest in you as a long term employee.
Even if the employers don't end up offering you full time employment when you complete your college degree, you will have an edge over students who don't have your experience. You future employer will be very impressed you're your exposure and the recommendation letter that you'll be able to provide them from your internship.
More and more students are finding out that applied learning such as internships and cooperative education programs (co-ops) give the necessary practical experience, and provides a contact base that is invaluable in the job search process. For employers, these programs allow them to get a jump-start on training a talented young workforce.
An intern is an advanced student gaining supervised practical experience in all sorts of industries. Many employers are hiring and training student interns with the hope of developing their workforce.
There are two types of internships, academic and non-academic. An academic internship is an arrangement between the educational institution, the employer and you. The institution sets up the internship and makes sure that the work is associated with your major, minor, or area of concentration. To receive credits you may be required to work a specific number of hours and submit a report at the end of the internship period. A non-academic internship is just that. No academic credits are earned and the arrangement is between you and the employer.
While internships offer little or no pay, co-ops combine paid employment with academic study. You are able to alternate periods of study with periods of productive employment related to your area of study. A co-op program works in several ways:
- Parallel plan - you can attend classes and work part-time
- Alternate plan - you can alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of full-time work. At least two work terms are required.
- Extended day plan - you attend classes full-time and work part-time, or work full-time and attend classes part-time.
In order to participate in a co-op program, your college curriculum would have to be extended to five-years because of the two or three six-month periods of full-time employment. On the other hand, internships are assigned on a semester-by-semester basis, allowing you to graduate within a four-year-period.
Here's a website that will give you an idea of some internships that are available: