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Kizzy PrestonInternships For Adults: Don't Get Your Degree Without It

by Kizzy Preston

When I first graduated from college I thought, “O. K. great. I have my B.A. in English - bring on the writing/editing jobs!” But as I researched the position I really wanted, I saw that I was lacking one very vital thing: experience.  In spite of it having always been my dream, all of my work history had been in the banking and business world. I didn’t have any recent or tangible experience in a field where writers and editors are needed.

This could have been avoided if I had done one simple thing... completed an internship. Internships are where you, the student, work for a company— usually without monetary compensation— but you are paid in experience and sometimes college credit. You work the job as if you are a paid employee of the company and gain hands-on experience. It is there you develop the skills you need to land that first position in your field.

Many companies look favorably on internships and see them as real life experience that cannot be obtained in a classroom. In ”“Why Are Internships So Important?” Melissa Benca, director of career services at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City said, "Internships have become key in today's economy. Graduating students with paid or unpaid internships on their résumé have a much better chance at landing a full-time position upon graduation. Students are doing internships as undergraduates, and it is now not unusual for recent grads to take an unpaid internship with hopes of turning it into a permanent position, or at least making some contacts and building their résumé."

Adults Need Internships Too

Adults often have to balance college courses with a full-time job, home and family obligations. If you are attending college to prepare for a career change, then it is important that you find a way to complete an internship in your newly chosen field. Having the degree alone is usually not enough to successfully change careers. Companies want to see that you have tangible experience before they will hire you. Some companies are willing to let students intern on the weekends, or on a flexible schedule. You could also look into volunteering with an organization to gain the skills and experience that would make you more marketable. Some degree programs require the completion of an internship, but most do not. It is up to the student to make sure that they gain as much real world experience as possible before graduation.

A lot of college programs imply that once the student has completed their degree, they will be able to become whatever they dreamed of becoming. The truth of the matter is, without real world experience adult learners find it difficult to obtain what is promised. Instead they find that no one is willing to take a chance on them due to their lack of experience.

The idea of working for “free” may be a turn off to the adult who has spent many years in the workforce. Not all internships are unpaid. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 93 percent of employers planned to hire students for internship programs. Most companies said that they would pay their interns. Whether the internship is paid or unpaid, it is necessary. In order to compete with other, younger students who are also completing the same degree, adults need hands-on experience. Some adults go back to school to obtain a degree so that they can advance in their current company. For them an internship may not be required. If, however, they want to completely change careers, then it would be in their best interest to find and complete an internship.

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