All You Need To Know About Why Freshmen And Sophomores Should Intern

Tamás Mészáros; Pexels

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Tamás Mészáros; Pexels

Tamás Mészáros; Pexels

The first few years of college can be overwhelming — well, for some, all four years of college are a challenge. Maybe that’s why college internships aren’t usually held by freshmen and sophomores. According to Vault’s October internship survey, two thirds of internships are held by juniors and seniors. Underclassmen may still be getting acquainted with the college lifestyle, responsibilities, and mounds of reading material, but the benefits of interning early can’t be ignored.

Encouraging these college newbies to add an internship to their workload might not be an easy task, so here are a few ways to convince them of the benefits:

Make an informed college major decision

Switching majors is common — some experts even suggest it is a healthy part of the college process. An impressive 75 to 85 percent of students will switch majors before graduating, says How Late Is Too Late? Myths and Facts about the Consequences of Switching College Majors, an August Education Advisory Board study of 78,000 students. Beginning an internship freshman or sophomore year would allow students to better understand which major they’d prefer to be in earlier in their college career.

For nervous first or second year college students, starting an internship may seem intimidating and time consuming. Sit down with their schedule to show how many time blocks they actually have to put in a few hours a week for an internship. Set up a time for them to meet with a junior or senior who has been through the process and understands both the struggles and benefits of interning.

The pressures of entering college with a strong knowledge of what major you want to pursue are intense. Use this time to reassure students it’s OK to be unsure of what major they want to choose — or to change it throughout their four years — but starting internships early will help them find the correct path sooner.

Receive hands-on tools

The majority of employers want employees with both field-specific knowledge, and a broad range of knowledge and skills. The Association of American Colleges and Universities found this is what employers say college students need to achieve long-term career success in their November 2015 Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success survey of 400 employers. In fact, very few indicate that acquiring knowledge and skills mainly for a specific field or position is the best path for long-term success.

Even freshmen and sophomores are anxious about finding a job after graduation. Help them understand how internships round out skills and knowledge needed for the workforce. Certain soft skills, though not always obvious, can add to what they’re learning in specific courses. For example, those majoring in marketing may not recognize how interning with a salesperson will help them with communication skills that can’t be developed in a classroom.

Get a jump on college tuition

Most college students know tuition is expensive, and not knowing the final amount of debt is intimidating. An April survey released by Education Reform Now (ERN) has validated these fears. The Out Of Pocket: The High Cost of Inadequate High Schools And High School Student Achievement On College Affordability survey found U.S. college students are spending $1.5 billion annually. It’s no surprise students enter into college already stressing over finding a high paying career to tackle loan payments after graduation.

Getting a jumpstart on college tuition debt is possible through internships. According to the previously mentioned Vault survey, 98 percent of internships are not only paid, but well paid. The small percentage that aren’t paid are usually worth college credits.

Gather a list of internships for your students that show the possible pay. Show your freshmen and sophomores how much money or course credits they could acquire if they intern for four years. This could take a huge chunk out of what they owe post graduation.

Helping all of your students understand the benefits of interning is important, but putting more focus on freshmen and sophomores could heighten their chances of finding the perfect career path.

Do you think college internships should be held by freshmen and sophomores? Why or why not? Let us know!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It's available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.