Choosing a major, taking classes, and completing coursework are all steps towards one’s career. However, one of the best ways to get experience and learn the skills needed for a career is to participate in internships.
In fact, according to a survey completed through the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2018, those surveyed who completed at least one internship received a job offer more quickly and had a higher first-position salary than those who did not.
An internship at the top of a resume can indicate to potential employers that the applicant has some experience working in a professional environment. This allows the candidate to discuss with employers the skills they developed and how they incorporated what they learned in their academics and applied it outside the classroom.
“Employers know you will not be coming in with zero knowledge in the field and that you already possess a certain degree of professionalism and work ethic. An internship is a great way to jumpstart your career, and a big asset to include on your résumé upon completing your degree,” Career Center Internship Manager Debbie Ungson-Walbert said.
Career Advisor Mark Fauble states that internships are very important for all majors and career interests.
“Students learn about the things that they like and don’t like in a work environment. In addition, employers highly value internship experience, which can result in multiple job offers and a higher starting salary for students seeking employment. Students who have participated in internships are in a much more commanding position when entering the job market.”
Internships make a difference
Haley Kosik ’18 received a job offer after completing an internship. Her offer for a full-time multimedia journalist at WOWK-TV in West Virginia came just after completing an internship at an ABC News affiliate in Pennsylvania.
“My video-interview with WOWK News progressed to a job offer because I showed that I had a good understanding of the television news industry,” says Kosik. “With my internship experience, I was able to confidently reassure the employer that the position was right for me.”
Internships develop necessary skills
Internships are a key way for Redbirds to develop and improve upon transferable skills. These skills that go beyond textbook knowledge are often learned in settings outside of the classroom.
“I’ve yet to hear of an internship that did not involve working with a diverse group of people,” Ungson-Walbert said. “Working on a project with team members who do not necessarily see or do things the way you do provides an opportunity to strengthen your interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills. All these skills, or competencies, are required in any job at any industry.”
Hannah Zettl ’18 is a morning news reporter for KOZL-TV in Missouri and developed many transferable skills during her internship experiences at ABC News in Washington, DC; at a FOX Sports radio affiliate in Aurora; and even as a writing intern for the Career Center.
“Each internship challenged me to grow in the areas of professionalism, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking,” said Zettl. “I set a goal to spend every summer interning at a media organization, and these experiences have been a great way to combine the topics discussed in communication courses with real-world projects and deadlines. Having numerous internships under my belt has truly prepared me for my upcoming career as a television news reporter.”
Illinois State internships
“Internships are an important part of the culture in the School of Communication (SoC). Each year more than 400 internships are completed by SoC students,” School of Communication Assistant Professor Tom Lamonica said. “More than 75 percent of our graduating seniors have at least one internship for credit, and more than 40 percent have at least two. These students understand the value of expanding their skills, building their networks and developing as professionals.”
Illinois State University has many opportunities for journalism students to intern without ever having to leave campus. For example, the School of Communication offers internships with a variety of campus outlets including TV-10 News, The Vidette, and radio stations WZND and WGLT.
“I always felt that Illinois State prepared me in ways that no other university could have. I can only thank the University for the numerous Leadership Opportunities and endless possibilities,” said School of Communication alum Alex Corradetti ‘14.
“I had the honor of having an internship with TV-10, and without that, I doubt I’d be where I am today. I got hands-on experience with a live daily newscast, and got to create my own entertainment programming.”
In addition to Corradetti’s internship with TV-10, she also interned at RockitRanch Productions and has gone on to become a morning news anchor and producer at WCIA-TV in Champaign.
Internship opportunities are available
Internships are not difficult to find. Students can identify internship positions using Hire-A-Redbird, Illinois States online job vacancy system, or meet with their career advisor. Redbirds also have the opportunity to explore internship options at the Spring Internship Fair on February 19 at the Bone Student Center. Recruiters from over 50 organizations from varying industries will be seeking Redbird talent from all majors to discuss internship opportunities.
“I always encourage students to invest in their future and an internship is one of the best investments they can make,” Fauble said. “When it’s time to climb that career staircase, an internship is a great first step.”
The Career Center assists students with developing, evaluating and/or implementing career, education and employment decisions. The program also supports Illinois State University’s Educate Connect Elevate: Illinois State—The Strategic Plan for Illinois’ First Public University 2018-2023.