This blog is the perfect testament to how extremely busy life as a college student is. I’m a writer and I don’t even have the time to actually write. Or prepare for an internship. Or find a job. And I graduate in two months, so think about how scared I am.
A few weeks ago during one of the editors’ meetings for our school paper, we realized that as students, school is preparing us for the “real world” without giving us anytime to experience the real world. I had an internship packet for Hallmark sitting on my desk for two weeks before I missed the deadline. Why? Because I was too busy writing papers for my classes that are supposedly beneficial to my future career.
This spurned an opinion piece for a recent issue of The Herald. It definitely isn’t my best piece of work, but then again, I only had a few minutes to write it before rushing back to do my homework:
Congratulations! It’s your final year of college and that big kid job is out there waiting for you. But of course, college grads need experience to get experience, so what better way than with an internship?
Unpaid internships definitely still exist, but paid positions are available and make the transition out of college worthwhile and smooth. However, sometimes the application process isn’t so worthwhile or easy when balancing homework, actual time spent in class and more than likely an outside job.
The main thing students hear through college is how important it is to get an internship in their designated field. According to a Harris Interactive survey through Chegg.com, more than 80 percent of more than 1,000 employers want recent college graduates they hire to have completed an internship. Out of 2,000 college students, only eight percent said an internship was something they spent time doing. There’s a large difference between students who interned and got a job, and students who didn’t intern. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 60 percent of 2012 graduates who interned landed a job while only 36 percent of graduates who didn’t intern got a job.
Internships look good on a resume, lead to amazing network opportunities, and are clearly a path to a job. But the application process can be lengthy and finding free time to work on the packets becomes nearly impossible. An internship packet for Hallmark, for example, consists of more than 10 writing samples in addition to a regular resume.
Students become extremely weighed down with extracurricular activities (also needed as a resume booster), part time jobs to pay for bills, elective classes that are outside of their major but are required, and mountains of homework. That leaves little time to sit down and write an essay explaining why we are the best candidate for a position. College is meant to prepare us for the outside world yet so much is involved in that process we can’t seem to reach our end goal.
Consider this: a college student taking more than 15 hours of classes works a campus job (roughly 10-15 hours a week) in addition to outside jobs to help pay bills. They are constructing a senior thesis as well as participating in extracurricular activities. Between class time, homework and the jobs, it can get tough to even eat on a regular schedule, let alone sit down to complete essays, put together references and create a good portfolio to send in.
Instead of pushing so many activities on students to “prepare” them and making unnecessary classes a requirement, there should be more of a true focus on allowing time for students to search and apply for jobs or internships. Foregoing sleep or backing out on class assignments in favor of working on applications can have no good outcome, but giving students the time and attention they need for life after college will likely ensure their success.