Internships help grads connect, find employers

Amy Hackbarth

When University senior Kim Lindeen graduates this semester, she’ll move on to become an adolescent counselor at the Bar None Residential Treatment Center.

She gives partial credit for receiving the position – the first job she interviewed for – to the probation officer she shadowed at an internship starting last summer.

“He helped me a lot, telling me where good places to work were and how to get some experience,” she said.

Internships and professional contacts like Lindeen’s are key to finding a job after graduation, said several University career counselors.

They recommended outside experiences such as internships, summer jobs, volunteer activities and study abroad programs for upcoming graduates looking for work.

“Students need to remember that they are more than their major,” said Paul Timmins, College of Liberal Arts lead career services coordinator. “Your major gives you some kind of tangible skills Ö but beyond that major you need to go out and get that experience, whatever kind it is.”

Senior Brad Johnson used his internship experience with General Mills to jump-start a full-time position at the company when he graduates this month.

Two weeks before his summer internship ended last year, Johnson’s employers offered the management and information systems major a full-time position as a program analyst starting this August.

Even though he had the security of a full-time job offer, Johnson interviewed for positions at three other companies during the school year.

“I felt like I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t see what other options I had,” he said.

While Johnson’s success through internship experience is common for the Carlson School of Management students – approximately 85 percent of business students participate in an internship during college – many University students don’t have jobs waiting for them after graduation.

For graduates who are having problems finding work, the first step is to decide what kind of job to apply for, said Mike Agnew, Carlson associate dean.

“You should go with where your passions and interests are and where you can make a contribution in the field,” he said.

Limiting the jobs graduates are interested in will make their job searches easier, Timmins said.

“It’s great that people are flexible, but at the same time it makes it harder because they need to know where they want to go,” he said.

Graduates should also avoid relying on newspaper ads for their job opportunities, said Maggie Kubak, College of Biological Services internships and career services coordinator. Instead, she said, they should send resumes and speak with professionals at any organization with which they want to build a relationship.

Small or medium-sized organizations shouldn’t be overlooked in job searches, Timmins said. Sometimes those organizations don’t list openings in newspaper ads.

When they do find jobs that fit their qualifications, graduates should remember that no career decision is final, Kubak said.

“A student doesn’t have to find a perfect job that they’re going to stay in forever,” she said. “Take that first step and expect change. Plan for change. If it doesn’t work out, move on and learn from what you’ve done.”

Amy Hackbarth welcomes comments at [email protected]