Along with the many stresses of being a college student is the overwhelming anxiety concerning life after college. Elon University in many ways tries to help students channel that stress positively by encouraging them to find internships throughout their college career.
Though internships are a great way to help prepare students for jobs within their respective fields, finding them is inherently stressful, especially when students seek to obtain academic credit for these internships.
Internships are required at many schools across the nation, and because of labor laws, companies typically require interns to receive academic credit for their work, especially if they are unpaid. At Elon, the requirement also aids in the push toward experiential learning, a unique and fundamental element of the university’s mission.
Throughout Elon specifically, the requirements needed to register an internship for credit are not only numerous but also significantly different between schools.
While Elon does not require students across all disciplines to fulfill an internship for credit, students majoring in the School of Communications or the Love School of Business (excluding economics and international economics majors) must complete at least one internship for academic credit. These students make up about 40 percent of Elon’s undergraduate population.
Jan Pagoria, director of internships for the Love School of Business, is an advocate for receiving credit for internships because it pushes students to view their internships with an academic lens.
Pagoria said “if an employer is willing to take the student under her wing and teach the student about her company, industry and professional function ... we don’t want to create a barrier for that student.”
That’s how it should be across all schools at Elon.
In general, completing an internship for credit is an accepted and helpful practice, but the real issue at Elon comes with all the requirements needed before registering for internship credit.
There are requirement disparities across the different schools within the university. The number of course prerequisites and required credit hours varies greatly.
The primary difference between internships with the School of Business and School of Communications is that for a communications internship, students already have completed 70 credit hours and a core set of classes. A freshman in the School of Business can register for an internship, while a freshman in the School of Communicatons simply cannot.
Also, most majors within the School of Communications only have to complete at least one internship credit, but Sport and Event Management majors must fulfill an extensive four credit internship, adding up to 320 hours of work, on top of their assigned reflections and course work.
The university needs to implement a unified and simplified list of requirements students must match before registering for internship credit. This will make the process of finding an internship and fulfilling the internship requirement much easier and less overwhelming for students.
If the university changes its approach to registering for internship credits, there will be less confusion for double majors and students who are new to the world of internships. A new streamlined approach will also reduce stress for students as they work on registration in addition to their existing schoolwork.
Internships in general are going to be difficult, and there are so many parts of the process that we cannot change. These confusing and excessive requirements are unnecessary hurdles that can be reduced and would allow for a smoother and more beneficial experience for students.