Mandatory internships: Are they worth it?
Students often complain about mandatory internships, but are they really all that bad?
If you ask around campus about mandatory internship programs, you’ll probably get a lot of mixed reviews. Kyle Pura, a journalism student who recently wrapped up his internship and his fourth year of studies, says even he was split on the internship.
“On one hand, I thought it would be helpful to students who were looking to gain experience in a workplace using the skills you learn from your program,” Pura says. On the other hand, Pura says he thought it was strange to be competing against his peers for a limited number of internships.
With the majority of the journalism internships, students compete against not only their immediate peers, but others in public relations, information design, business and even programs such as policy studies.
Pura says he initially searched for the perfect job, but eventually started to search for anything to get the credit he needs to graduate. By the time he found a job, he had applied for close to 20 positions.
While it might not seem like a lot, it can be stressful to find a suitable job while balancing 20-30 hours of work, studying for exams and trying to maintain a social life.
Finding the ideal position
One of the biggest issues students have with the internship is that it’s required for graduation, and it’s typically completed in the summer. When looking for a summer job, most students have criteria the job must meet in order to survive the upcoming semesters.
Money and hours often get set to the back burner when looking for an internship, as the ideal job and realistic internship are rarely the same thing. Pura says when he would hear people complain about having to complete an internship, he figured they couldn’t find the right internship.
“I’m guessing some saw it as a waste of time, especially if they did not find the position they were looking for in the first place,” Pura says.
But he says the people typically complain are the ones looking for an internship, and by talking to students that have completed an internship, the story is completely different.
“A lot of people who I have spoken with about their work internship said that they really enjoyed the experience and learning process of it,” Pura says. “Especially because you get to apply your skills from your program to an actual position that utilizes those skills.”
Solidifying your skills
Pura says above anything else, the skills you pick up working in a practical setting makes all of the trouble worth it.
“The beginning was rough because I did not think I would be able to secure a position at all,” Pura says. “But once I found a job that I was interested in, I loved it.”
Pura worked as a communications intern for the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce. His duties consisted of regular day-to-day administration and research work to photographing events held by the Chamber of Commerce.
“These are all skills that the university has groomed me for, so it was cool being able to try this in a professional environment,” Pura says.
While he says he’d still like to explore other avenues of communication, the internship program did help solidify his choice to pursue a journalism degree.
“This experience definitely has given me confidence for future employment I will be seeking post-graduation, as well as giving me confidence in knowing that I really picked the right program to be in,” Pura says.