Opinion: Internships are the greatest tool for learning

Don’t kid yourself – you need all the workplace experience you can get

They say college is the best four years of your life – a time to find independence and live a little. This is true, but if you’re not adequately preparing and building a solid resume, getting and succeeding in your dream job is going to be a struggle.

Enter internships. Many are unpaid — and yes, that presents its own issues — but they are necessary for professional development. I would not even hesitate to say that a good internship can often go a lot further than required major courses in prepping a student for their career. 

In the Mary Lou Fulton College Teachers College, internships are built right into the degrees because of how essential they are in preparing students to become certified and prepared educators. Robert Morse, the co-director of the office of clinical experiences at the teachers college, said the internships and student teaching are the “most significant component” of the teacher preparation program. 

“That’s where students are getting to practice and apply what they’re learning,” Morse said. “That’s where students are having the opportunities to test new ideas, to make mistakes, to practice and apply what they are learning, to work with diverse learners (and) diverse students.”

From personal experience as an education student, my time spent observing in a classroom and working with students really has been one of my most significant learning experiences, and I am confident that, even more so than classes, my student teaching will be the difference-maker is preparing me to have my own class.

It’s not just ASU’s education students that are required to gain experience through internships. For example, students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication are also working overtime to get real workplace experience.

Morse said that he went through the W.P. Carey School of Business, and while they strongly encouraged their students to seek out internship opportunities, it was not a requirement. However, just because you don’t have to get one, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Some students may be under a false impression that merely passing their classes and earning their degree will be enough, but nowadays, resumes need a little beefing up. Thus, even when it’s not required, it should still be priority.

When looking for an internship, it can be tough to decide whether the labor involved is worth the often little-to-no pay. But, if selected carefully, the experience gained is well-worth the hours put in.

When I walk into work my first day, I want to have a sense of preparedness and confidence that I will be successful, and there will be nothing better to prepare me than having a multiple internships and a year of student teaching already under my belt. That’s part of the beauty of being an education student – you know that you will get authentic workplace experience.

College can certainly be a time to let loose and have some fun, but at its core, we go through it to get ready for a career, and nothing prepares a person for the workplace better than a good old-fashioned internship.

 Reach the columnist at amblodge@asu.edu or follow @AndiBlodgett on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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