Catch the wave into summer internships

Christopher Pinnock

With summer only a few weeks away, most Villanova students have two words in mind: Jersey Shore. Or perhaps its the two Italian words you picked up while watching Life is Beautiful the other day—hoping that they will be enough to get you through your summer semester in Rome. For others, it may be two of the most sought after, and shortly thereafter, dreaded words in the book—summer internship.

Students who were lucky enough to land an internship for the summer have plenty to look forward too. Nothing beats a subway platform on a 100-degree Friday afternoon, or the 11PM nights in the office trying to figure out why the $8,000 Xerox machine cannot copy for its life. By the time July 4th rolls around, that lifeguard job that your best friend took may seem like the best job in the world. Nonetheless, intern season is here and with a little preparation and advice, students may be able to warm up to employers and gain some valuable experience.

Summer internships vary greatly from one organization to the next, and the term traditionally refers to real-world work experiences in which students fulfill short-term positions in a company or organization in order to gain hands-on experience and develop career-specific skills. They also provide a valuable opportunity for mentoring and networking that can put a student on the right path for a satisfying career.

In interviews with The Villanovan, Nancy Dudak and Carol Lloyd of Villanova’s Office of Career Services, offered some advice to students who are “taking the challenge” this summer and venturing into the real world for a taste of the working life. “Meet as many people as you can and network as much as possible,” Dudak recommended. “Making contacts can be one of the most valuable things that a student can take away from an internship.”

Lloyd also recommended that students should, “think about the good and bad aspects of the internship when its is completed and talk about your experiences during interviews for full-time positions or other internships.”

Dudak and Lloyd both agreed that recruiters love to hear stories about internships during interviews and that it is an easy place for a student to begin a conversation.

Another advantage of real-world experience is that the student can evaluate the career path and culture of the organization. Although a full-time offer is not a required attachment for internships, Lloyd estimated that 70 percent of internships result in a full-time offer from that employer.

However, employer-intern relationships do not always end up the same, and students should differentiate whether it is the employer or the industry that they like or dislike.

“Be sure not to blow off a whole industry because of a bad summer experience,” said Dudak. Lloyd and Dudak both agreed, however, that most students have a positive experience with internships and the benefits almost always outweigh the costs.