Internship experience can be an employer’s deciding factor in hiring a college graduate. Most academic departments on campus require their students to graduate with internships under his or her belt in order to satisfy the Plattsburgh State Campus Plan of experiential learning.

Finding and applying for an internship can be a stressful and anxiety-filled process for those who haven’t done it before. The PSUC Career Development Center is a resource that many students take advantage of if they are struggling in this area of their education, as well as many others, such as writing a resume, preparing cover letters and applying for graduate school.

According to the CDC’s “Finding Internships: Applied Learning” section in its Career Savvy Series, there are many benefits to “applied learning.”

Firstly, internships give students the credit they need to graduate in their program of study. Next, the experience will give you the skills and the time to practice them in an industry situation, as well as a more in-depth knowledge of the field. It will also give students the opportunity to demonstrate their work ethic and reliability to a potential employer.

They also give students the means to explore, seeing if a specific field is the right fit for them. Lastly, internships are an opportunity to network with industry professionals. If students show initiative and willingness to learn and grow, it is a chance for them to establish a mentorship with their supervisors.

PSUC junior biology student Anissa Bawa took an internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City last summer. Doing mostly clerical work and the occasional shadow with doctors, she said she realized the importance of getting that experience.

Bawa said she got her internship by going to the CDC and using the resources made available to PSUC students. The office supplied her with the means to find internships in the city. She then applied, went for multiple interviews and got the position.

“Before my interviews, I prepared by sitting down with my aunt to go over questions and to practice what I would say,” Bawa said.

The CDC also offers time for students to schedule a mock interview with a professional in the office who will give them feedback to properly answering common questions asked by potential employers.

Last summer, junior public relations and journalism student Amy Sheldon was hired for two internships — Dutchess County Tourism and National Park Services.

“The internships I had last summer were because of my parents’ networking and the people that they knew professionally,” Sheldon said. “But for this summer I have been more active, and I looked up internships through Career Shift on Cardinal Connect.”

Cardinal Connect is also available for currently enrolled students, PSUC alumni and employers. Students can use this resource to find internships, jobs, employers and many other things that can help them make the transition from college to career, such as Career Shift, which thoroughly searches for jobs in which students are looking.

Sheldon has applied and been accepted to the Washington Internship Institute, which has been assisting her in finding internships in Washington D.C. for the summer.

“I think it can be helpful to network to take advantage of your parents networking, but you shouldn’t count on it,” Sheldon said. “We tapped out all of our resources last summer, but it is good to make use of any family connections that you have.”

As the CDC advises, students should do their best to network with as many professionals as possible, as it will only help a student move through their future careers. Internships are one of the ways to build those connections.

Email Lisa Scivolette at lisa.scivolette@cardinalpointsonline.com

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