Internships great option for all

By Mallory Hisler

As spring classes get under way, glimpses of the summer can be seen on the horizon, and many students are making preparations for a summer internship.

“They are extremely invaluable,” Kevin Nall, associate director of Career Services at Baylor, said. “As a college student, there is nothing better that you can do.”

He stressed that there is no downside to an internship.

“People get job offers sooner, and typically more job offers, especially if the internship is with a nationally recognized company,” he said. “They also typically get higher salaries.”

Most students choose to do their internships during the summer, the most competitive time for getting high-profile internships, Dr. James Curry, Bob Bullock Professor of Public Policy and Administration in the department of political science, said.

“Because summer internships are so competitive, it’s important to start early,” Curry said.

Curry has a background in helping students find important, life-shaping internships.

As the director of the Washington Internship Program and the Director of the Bullock Scholars Program in Austin, it is part of his job.

“I think that internships properly sought out and used can provide life-changing experiences for students,” Curry said. “Not necessarily because of the specific type of work or even the substance, but just the experience of being in a real world situation.”

Both Nall and Curry encourage students to make contact with a person who does something that they are interested in, or work at an organization at which they could see themselves.

“This is the time to talk to them. Learn as much as you can about the entity that you’re applying to,” Curry said. “Look online. Read what they’re about. When you send a letter indicating interest, you can drop in a few comments, so you don’t look like you’re sending resumes blindly.”

Nall said students who appear to have done their homework on a company are more appealing to that company as a potential employee. He also advised students to contact professionals in the field they are interested in and ask to talk to them about what they do on a day-to-day basis.

“Ask them important questions, and from that, make more informed decisions,” Nall said.

Bristol, Tenn., senior Kaylen Puckett had a non-traditional internship experience and said although it may not be for everyone, it was a good choice for her.

Puckett participated in the Baylor in London Foundation for International Education program, where students study abroad for half a semester and are placed in an internship for the second half. She interned in the fundraising department of the London non-profit group Providence Row.

“It helps you decide whether this is what you want to do,” Puckett said. “Now I know I want to do nonprofit, but it showed me I did not want to do fundraising.”

Nall, Curry and Puckett agreed that playing the role of an intern is an integral part of a college career.

“Any student in any major should do an internship at some time,” Puckett said. “Don’t just go for the biggest internships. The smaller the company, the more you’ll get to do. I got to do everything that they were doing.”

Nall and Curry said working part-time or volunteering somewhere is just as effective for gaining inside knowledge and connections.

Career Services will host the Spring 2012 Internship and Career Fair Feb. 22 at the Ferrell Center which Nall suggests all students attend, even if just to use it as a way to make connections. Students can visit HireABear online to learn more about the event.