By Kobi Hudson –
For many students entering the “real” world, the prospect of getting a job can be daunting. Many experience the vicious cycle of needing experience to get a job but not being able to gain experience because they can’t get a job because they don’t have experience and so on. There seems to be one sure fire way to defeat this cycle, though: an internship.
An internship may seem intimidating but for many students it is a great way to get a foot in the door at a specific company, gain experience, or even a way to make money. Rocky Mountain College professors seem to have noticed the value of internships and some departments even make it a requirement for graduation in certain majors.
Most internships through RMC are for a select amount of time and are set up with a mentor-mentee structure in place. This allows for the mentor to often pick projects for the intern that fit into that select amount of time. In many cases, the mentor uses this project to get the intern up to speed with how the business functions which then makes it much easier for the intern to become a full time employee.
Ean McLaughlin, a Computer Science major at RMC, is an intern at Payment Alliance International (PAI) located here in the Billings area. Mclaughlin’s official job title may be as an “Intern Software Developer” in the company, but he says that his internship with PAI “basically means that I’m a full developer.”
When students picture an internship, many may think that it entails bringing some demanding boss their daily dose of caffeine, or making copies. Although these might exist, many interns accomplish impressive work. Today, student interns find themselves working just as many employees would, but without the fears of failure that full time employees might have.
More and more interns are getting paid and are not just working solely for experience. Although the experience is a great addition to the résumé, the pay is something that makes an internship worth it. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) latest intern compensation report, the average intern makes $16.21 per hour, above the minimum wage in every state.
Internships are also a good way for students to test what it is like in their field of study. Sometimes there is a difference between the work life and the study life of certain fields. An internship is one of the best ways to test the waters and see what life might be like after graduation.
One of the biggest benefits to an internship is the knowledge one can gain from them. Real world experience is one of the fastest ways to learn. While school gives students academic experience, an internship can provide a completely different angle to a student’s education. Mclaughlin stated, “My internship has definitely helped me become accustomed to working on an enterprise application in a professional office environment.” In other words, this is a project that McLaughlin never would have had the opportunity to work on in a purely academic environment; his internship provided him with that valuable opportunity. Mclaughlin added, “Nothing I have worked on before was near as large.”
The combination of an internship with a standard education has the potential to take an RMC student’s education to the next level. Internships can help people to gain the experience necessary to make the “after college job hunt” a much smoother transition.