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Kalamazoo College

Director's Notes

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from Joan Hawxhurst

Why Internships are Critical for College Students

May 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm
By Joan Hawxhurst

It’s that time of year, when college students wrap up their spring classes and head off for the summer. While we recognize that K students use this time off from classes to be with family and friends, decompress from the challenges of the academic year, and earn income for their next year at K, the CCPD strongly encourages students to secure a summer internship as well.

Internships are the best way for undergraduates to gain relevant work experience in their chosen field before graduation. As reported in the latest survey of employers from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 64.2% of employers prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Education and reported in The Atlantic, employers see internships as the most important element in their entry-level hiring decisions, ranking well above college major, GPA or relevance of coursework.

Students are starting to understand this, and participation in internships is on the rise. Nationally, 62.8% of undergraduates in the Class of 2015 participated in an internship during their time in college.  That’s the highest percentage recorded since NACE began publishing an annual Student Survey report in 2007.

Here are some interesting findings from the most recent NACE student survey:

·       Demographically, men and women were equally as likely to have had an internship (64.6 percent and 65.8 percent, respectively), while African-American and Hispanic-American students were less likely to have done so (59.5 percent and 53.3 percent, respectively) compared to Asian-American, multiracial, white, and international students (63.2 percent to 68.2 percent).

·       Nationally, more than half of students who took part in an internship and/or co-op (58.8 percent) worked for a private, for-profit company, while one-fourth (25.7 percent) worked for a nonprofit organization. A smaller group (12 percent) worked for a state or local government agency, while few students worked for a federal government agency (3.5 percent).

Here at K, the CCPD can help connect students with internship opportunities.  Each year, we have endowed funding to offer about 40 $3,000 stipends to students who secure unpaid summer internships. These stipends are designed to help defray the costs associated with conducting an unpaid internship, from travel and housing to foregone wages. In summer 2016, CCPD stipends (which are already allocated) will support students doing internships through the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, Community Building Internships through the Center for Civic Engagement, and internships secured in a variety of non-profit, government, and start-up environments.

All K students with summer internships (paid or unpaid, stipend or no stipend) are encouraged to participate in the CCPD Internship Program (CCPD-IP), which offers structure and support from the CCPD to students conducting summer internships. Participation in the CCPD-IP helps student interns get the richest rewards—experiential learning, transferable skill-building, and professional relationships—from their summer internships. One more benefit of the CCPD-IP: upon successful completion of the program and its requirements, students will receive notation of their internship on their official academic transcript.

It’s not too late for students to secure an internship for summer 2016! This week there were 200 internships posted in K-Connect, the CCPD’s job/internship database. Whether you are a K student seeking an opportunity, or an employer seeking a summer intern, the CCPD can help. Contact us today!