Number of undergraduate interns continues to rise

Tara Powers

Summer internships for undergraduates are more of a necessity than ever. What was once considered a bonus on your résumé is now expected by potential employers, and Villanova students are feeling the pressure.

“I’m sure internships were done when I was here, but it was clearly not the make-or-break kind of scenario that it is now,” said Assistant Dean for College and External Relations Robert Blanchard, a Villanova alumnus himself.

Over the last three years, between 180 and 190 students have participated in internships for academic credit over the course of the fall, spring and summer terms.

“It is increasing, but I would say it’s not at a rate we’re satisfied with,” Blanchard said. “We have to be much more aggressive in convincing Arts and Sciences students that their college education should not be considered complete without at least one internship for credit.”

According to the Career Destinations Class of 2008 brochure, 50 percent of last year’s graduating class – 575 students – had at least one internship during their undergraduate careers at Villanova, and 20 percent held two or more. The majority of students in both of these categories were part of the Villanova School of Business, followed by arts majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Twelve percent of last year’s graduating class who received employment did so through an internship they held during their undergraduate careers.

Assistant Director of Systems and Marketing Kathleen Bracken said that these statistics were all self-reported by May graduates, and have an overall 80 percent response rate after follow-up research six months later.

There are a number of options for students seeking internships.

Villanova offers internships for credit during the academic year and also allows students to apply to receive credit for internships in which they participate during the summers.

Positions are also offered through the communication, biology and history departments.

The Internship Office in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does allow students to earn credit for internships in which they receive payment.

“The College of Arts and Sciences has moved to a position that allows our students to earn money,” Blanchard said. “I think it acknowledges the fact that students provide very valuable time and effort in their summer internships and for them to be compensated for that is appropriate.”

Students may receive up to 15 credits through internships, which, when worked during the academic year, are graded on a pass/fail basis.

For a three-credit internship, eight hours of work per week are expected.

To apply for an internship through the College of Arts and Sciences, students must have completed their sophomore year or have junior standing based on their academic credits.

A 3.0 GPA is required for academic year internships or a 2.7 GPA for summer positions.

The Internship Office in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has an online database featuring over 500 internships that students can browse. Villanova also has internship programs through The Washington Center, Temple University’s Film and Media Arts program and the Vatican in addition to the options offered through study abroad programs.

The Career Services Office also provides valuable internship opportunities, and is also a source for resume review, interview training, career fairs and one-on-one career counseling sessions.

The office also maintains a substantial job search database on its GoNova Web site and organizes information sessions when major companies come on campus to recruit students.

“The point is that a liberal arts education prepares students and equips them with skills that are of value across a wide range of specific careers,” Blanchard said. “The ability to think critically, to communicate effectively, to be a leader – those are skills that are highly valued and transportable across just about any industry or profession you could name.”

Ultimately, an internship’s benefit for the student is what both offices continued to stress.

“An internship gives an employer a clear view into your individual work ethic,” Blanchard said. “As an intern you get an opportunity to see what they’re really like – is this a company I would feel good about being a part of? Both sides get to test drive each other.”

“It builds the resume, it gives [students] exposure to what they want to do, and there’s the possibility of job offers at the end,” Bracken said.