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Internships and Work Experience
It doesn’t matter where you study, at the end of the day coursework simply isn’t enough to get you to land the job of your dreams. That’s why people always recommend work experience,
in the field you are pursuing.This is invaluable, not only for your resume, but also for the learning experiences you will have. Many employers actually prefer that their employees have work experience, be it in the form of internships or actual work experience. The reason for this is because your work experiences and references that come from there will show that you are capable of applying your college education to the field you are pursuing to work in. Don’t think there aren’t disadvantages for students in internship programs. Usually these are unpaid jobs and they might be difficult to fit into your schedule… Some online students work full-time as well, so internships are highly unlikely for most students. However if you have the time, the advantages to having that reference on your resume can be immense.
There are certain fields of study that require a mandatory amount of “field-credits”, medical and scientific students might have to clock in some hours in a lab, whereas archaeology students will probably have field-trips where they’ll clock in hours to get the credits they need. Education students will need to clock in more than 100 hours before they are allowed to teach! It all depends on your field of studies and the requirements to get your degree. Other degree programs prefer field-based credits in the form of supervised internships. This is where you apply your knowledge to a real world setting. The point of an internship is to build contacts, apply knowledge and to learn new skills from people in the field. This is beneficiary to anyone who is trying to get into a particular career, someone who had taken time off for a prolonged time or someone who is trying to change careers. It is an invaluable form of experience that will help you build up the necessary references to land that job you’ve been eyeing. However internships aren’t the only form of experience you can try to pursue… There is also the option of volunteering, especially for those students who want less of a commitment to this particular part of getting extra credits. This form of work-experience helps students to explore the field in a less-demanding manner, whilst still having the opportunity to build up their experience and references as well as their skills. If you need to find out where to get some more information about available internships, jobs that relate to your field of studies or any other practicum site that may be advantageous to you and your future, contact your school’s career office. They will be able to assist and guide you in the right direction and help you find an opportunity that suits you best. Other ways of locating internship opportunities are by going on the internet and browsing through some Web sources, which is not limited to a particular field or area whatsoever. It’s funny though, just like some students may be drawn to studying online, so also will they perhaps be drawn to a virtual internship. Yes, these “virtual internships” exist, but they are rare. However this has slowly started to change over the past few years among certain companies and online businesses. This is due to the improvisation of both technology and social media, of course. Interestingly though, there are “simulations” that is on offer, that helps the student “run a business” or “treat patients” without ever having to compromise an actual business or someone’s health, whilst still working. Needless to say, it’s nothing like the real thing, so always keep that in mind. When you finally get your hands on an internship, you have to remember a few things though:
• You have to understand the best practises for the profession;
• How this profession fits inside the organisation or industry you’re pursuing;
• What program would be useful in pursuing the profession in question?
• Get a portfolio piece (a form of evidence for your time spent at the company);
• Ask for a letter of recommendation;
• And always remember to ask a lot of questions! If you’re an intern, you need to ask questions, the reason is simple, you’re a student and still learning and there’s no such thing as a dumb question anyways. Also, don’t lose touch with the people you met there, build your contacts, ask them for advice. Your work experience may count towards a whole new life and new friends.
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