More and more freshman students are seeking internship opportunities to start off their careers early on – even without school credit.
According to Elon University’s Student Professional Development Center (SPDC), only an average of 15 students per year complete internships for credit after their first year. In order for an internship to be counted towards school credit, a student must get pre-approved by a faculty mentor who believes the student is ready for the internship experience. This mentor helps to facilitate the process by guiding the student through reflection and academic assignments, which the student will receive a letter grade for at the end of the semester.
As freshman students are new on campus, it is more difficult to get a faculty member to mentor them. More and more students are choosing to start interning as soon as possible to help build a network of connections for their future while receiving no school credit.
For freshman Connor Meehan, getting an internship was just a matter of having a full resume and getting in contact with the right internship program.
“I knew that reaching out and getting experience in an actual office early on will have lasting effects for my job search and performance after college,” he said.
Meehan will be working for Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI), a company that helps fund his school scholarship, in their human resources department for the entire summer, starting in May. He will be performing various jobs like editing new company handbooks and setting up for employee events. Meehan chose not to receive credit for his internship because it is outside of his major.
For some, an internship is just a valuable summer job. Matt Stranzl’s parents told him he needed a job for the summer, so he figured considering a paid internship his major would be a beneficial way to spend his time.
“I hope to get connections in the politics field, general work experience, and the ability to secure future internships,” he said. “My advice is just to put yourself out there.”
Freshman Eva Simmons will be working an un-paid internship as a legal intern for the Wake County District Attorney’s office in Raleigh.
Simmons had been working at the attorney’s office since her freshman year of high school as a regular intern. A few of her connections suggested she apply for a position as a legal intern, and so Simmons went through a series of interviews before she found out she got the position.
“I had a lot of trouble finding an internship in law due to the fact that I’m not in law school,” she said. “The Wake County Sheriff’s Department was considering myself and many law students, but due to my experience, I got the job.”
Although Simmons will not be allowed to do any legal paperwork due to lack of experience, she gets to work three days a week with prisoners who are unhappy with their sentence.
While she will be interning for no credit, Simmons still believes she will benefit from the experience in her future. She hopes to use this experience to give an inside look on the things she could do if she goes to law school.
“I would suggest making connections as early as possible, and using those connections. As soon as you get one job, it will help you get the next,” she said. “I believe that internships are a great way to narrow down your field of interest, build your resume and gain experience.”