Internships vital regardless of pay, city says

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Students without career-field experience have a hard time getting a job, a recruiter said.

 By Jennifer M. Ytuarte

Paid or unpaid, an internship is vital for academic growth, networking and hands-on experience in a chosen career field, Krystal Strong, recruitment manager for the city of San Antonio said.

Strong encourages all college students to participate in at least one internship during their academic careers.

She said many internships are unpaid, but if the student can be an active participant, instead of just schlepping coffee, then it is worth it.

Counselor Julie Engel said the experience can boost a résumé and put a student at an advantage over another graduate without real-world experience.

She said an internship earlier in a student’s academic career helps with the decision-making for the major.

Paid internships do exist, Engel said.

Students can check the career services job link for postings; or go to the career services office on the first floor of Moody Learning Center.

Strong said summer internships with the city are up to the individual department and if a student is interested in an area, they should be proactive and ask if a position is available.

“We love interns, especially those who come to us, as they are more engaged and proactive with the department,” Strong said.

She said the city’s summer internships begin accepting applications in March.

The Ambassador Program, a paid internship through the city, places college students in high-demand occupations in hopes of inspiring students to pursue local careers.

The city also has an internship agreement with Americorps, a nationwide volunteer organization.

Counselor Julie Engel said another way to find internships is to network with professionals and join a professional organization in the student’s field.

She said to keep in touch with professors in a student’s field of study. They usually receive emails from companies and people asking for student referrals or for recommendations.

Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education, said courses in the technical education track include a capstone course or external learning experience with hands-on training.

She said the department advocates competency-based learning in five types: clinical, internship, practicum, co-op or apprenticeship.

Paralegal professor Tandy Schoolcraft teaches LGLA 2388, Internship—Legal Assistant/Paralegal, at this college. She said the course is taken during a student’s final semester and requires 150 hours of work.

She said the student must seek out the internship, but she provides a list of law firms that have accepted interns from this college as well as firms which welcome intern application.

“I’m trying to prepare them (students) to go out into the world and get a job,” Schoolcraft said. “An internship is key and can lead to a paid position on staff when finished.”

Counselor Julie Engel said above all, it doesn’t hurt to ask and sometimes an unpaid position includes a grant or stipend.

“Ask outright,” Engel said. “Is it paid or unpaid? If unpaid, do I get course credit? Or can this position turn into part-time or full-time employment?”

“Never leave the table without asking,” Engel said. “Sometimes there is money available for the right intern.”



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