Graduating seniors rely on internships

Adrienne Burch

Last week the Associated Press reported that more than half of young college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. Next week thousands of University of Alabama seniors will walk across the stage in their caps and gowns, and many are graduating without a job waiting for them.

With these statistics and situations staring college students in the face, many are finding ways to build their resumes and form connections in their future career fields during their time in college. One way students are doing this is by participating in internships.

“The experiences the students take part in while fulfilling their internship requirements are extremely valuable in providing them with a taste of what a real job is like in their potential future career,” Jonathan Wingo, assistant professor of kinesiology, said.

There are a growing number of majors at UA that require students to complete an internship as part of their degree requirements. Some of these include exercise and sport science, human development and family studies, as well as education. Wingo said he would recommend requiring internships in most fields of study.

“We offer many interesting internship opportunities, from preschool centers, to pediatric units at hospitals, to service agencies, family centers, and advocacy programs,” Carroll Tingle, professor in human development and family studies, said.

Karly Wilson, a senior majoring in international studies, recently returned from a 10-week internship with the U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Wilson said she has always had the intention of getting a job with the federal government after graduation and was looking for an internship that would help her fulfill that goal.

“I went online to look at student opportunities at the State Department and found they offered internships both foreign and domestic,” Wilson said.

Wilson worked in the Consulate’s Public Affairs office, which handles matters of public diplomacy in the city, is partnered with city government and cultural and educational institutions, and promotes the U.S. in Russia.

“I will definitely use the real world work experience, language practice and the knowledge gained from living overseas immersed in another culture in my future,” Wilson said.

Wilson was able to earn six credit hours for her internship through the political science department at UA.

Will Dodd, a junior majoring in political science and history, also participated in a 10-week internship this spring with the State Department in Washington D.C.

Dodd was able to earn nine credit hours for his internship and said even though he was not getting paid for his work, he still felt it was important because he was receiving course credit. He also said internships help you decide if a career field is something you will enjoy.

“You can read all about a career, but until you actually have the opportunity to get hands-on experience, you will never know for sure if it is the right fit for you,” Dodd said.

Many students choose to use their summer as a time to take advantage of internship opportunities in their career fields. Dodd will be interning with the Alabama Democratic Party in Montgomery this summer.

For more information on internships, students should visit individual department offices at the University of Alabama Career Center.