Students are stepping away from paying jobs to reap the benefits of summer internships.
Gina Gottfredson, a career coach at the Dixie State University Career Center, said the immediate gratification from working at places like Jimmy Johns might seem great in the moment, but can do more harm than good when it comes to careers.
“[Internships] are preferred,” Gottfredson said. “Most employers, when they’re looking to hire someone… they often prefer the internship experience as long as it’s in the related field.”
Gottfredson said internships go further than jobs because it stems off of what you’re learning in the classroom. You also get more structure than you may not necessarily have at a job, she said.
“During internships, you learn while you’re working, whereas jobs expect you to know the information [already],” said Kaitlyn Ballard, a junior theater major from Hurricane.
Ballard said internships can help you meet influential people in the field students might be interested in, which draws companies to them.
“Internships [are] great for networking,” Gottfredson said. “You will also be able to get connections and referrals for future positions.”
Whereas in a job you might be stuck doing the same thing with the same people, internships allow you to learn many aspects of a company and meet with a plethora of people, Gottfredson said.
“You might get great letters of recommendation from these people,” Gottfredson said. “They’re maybe the head of a department or the CEO of the company you’re interning with and so you’re going to have a letter of recommendation from someone who is fantastic and has some clout.”
Gottfredson said another benefit to having an internship over a job is the temporary nature of the position.
“You get to try something for a while,” Gottfredson said. “It’s really great for exploration for students.”
Career coaches recommend students who have an idea of what they want to do but no experience in the field to intern for a related company, Gottfredson said. This gives students the opportunity to decide if the job is something they enjoy or if they would like to pursue another field.
“Having an internship can be a little stressful because you may not know where you’re going to work after, whereas a job you know you’ll have for a while,” Ballard said.
Ballard said although she likes the idea of exploring more in her field, she would rather have something more concrete.
Required internship experience
Communication majors are required to intern at communication-related companies and many other majors are making internships a graduation requirement, Gottfredson said.
“I think that they’re seeing the value of the internship,” Gottfredson said.
Communication majors are required to complete 90 hours of internship experience and record written reflections and objectives during their time.
Shane Blocker, assistant director of employer relations and internships, reaches out to local and nationwide businesses to offer DSU interns. Blocker has built relationships between DSU and businesses such as Goldman Sachs, Best Friends Animal Society and many other corporations.
“I do a lot of recruiting activities, sourcing companies and making sure they know of all the different services and majors and everything that is available at [DSU] in terms of student population,” Blocker said.
Gottfredson said she encourages students interested in applying for internships to go to the Career Center on the fifth floor of the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons building for assistance.
“Before [students] even talk to [Blocker], they’ll want to meet with one of the counselors and we’ll ask the tough questions,” Gottfredson said. “The questions they might not have thought of.”
Blocker said one of the first questions he asks students who come to see him is what exactly they want to do.
“Saying ‘I want to do an internship’ is great, but that only gets you out the door,” Blocker said. “It doesn’t really get you much more than that.”
Career fields are looking more at prior experience than ever before to filter the rising number of applicants, he said. Both hard and soft skills are required in the evolving job markets. Hard skills include the more technical and job-based skills, while soft skills are based on the more fluid intelligence like adaptivity and leadership.
Blocker said he also asks students where they would like to go for an internship. Students looking to intern during the fall and spring semesters should look for local businesses in St. George, he said.
“If it’s a summer internship where you want to go off and do something, then you have to decide ‘do I want to go to (Las) Vegas?’ or ‘do I want to go to California?’ or ‘do I want to go across the country to Washington D.C.?’” Blocker said.
No matter where students decide, Blocker said they must decide quickly. Summer internships, especially for larger corporations, fill up as early as October, he said.
Blocker then asks students which companies they are looking at and how they can set themselves apart from other applicants. He said a representative from Goldman Sachs told him 215,000 people applied for 225 summer-internship positions.
“So what are you doing to stand out from the other 215,000 applicants?” Blocker said.
The counselors help students narrow down what they want to do in their field of choice before they speak with Blocker.
“You can’t place one over the other,” Blocker said when comparing the benefits of internships and jobs. “Working and learning to be an employee is extremely important… as you get further along in your education, though, those internships become crucial to your success post-graduation.”
Career coaches are available for walk-ins 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but the Career Center remains open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.