The importance of internships

By Deanna Cabinian

Almost any administrator on campus can tell you how valuable internships are for students, regardless of the paycheck that accompanies them.

“Internships give students the opportunity to have real-world experience before they graduate,” said Jan Knudsen, coordinator of outreach and internships for the English department.

She said internships give students a “one-up” over those who don’t do internships and provides them with better opportunities for the future.

Knudsen said that a few years ago, every internship that students got through her office was paid, but now there are not as many paid ones. Knudsen said that whether or not internships are paid is reflective of the economy and doesn’t usually have anything to do with how much work an intern does.

As far as English internships go, she said the pay really varies and that generally small companies might not be able to pay their interns as much as larger corporations. She said that usually if the economy is doing well, then interns are paid, but if it is not doing so well, then companies have to ask students to volunteer.

But the time spent can be worth it.

With internships, students can figure out what their career options are and build networking, said Bob Huffstutler, senior coordinator of NIU’s Cooperative Education/ Internship Program.

When a student gets an internship with a certain company, the employer knows who they are and has already seen their work, so this can help them get a job in the future, Huffstutler added.

Huffstutler said that all fields of work have a way of considering candidates for future employment. However, he said that it is not always referred to as an internship.

There are three main reasons that people do internships, Huffstutler said.

One reason is because people want to get a job, another is that students want to figure out what they’d like to do career-wise, and the last reason is so students can try and gain employment with a specific company.

Huffstutler added that internships are important for any major.

“It’s almost anything,” said Huffstutler of the extent of an intern’s duties.

Huffstutler said that whether or not internships are paid varies in terms of the job market. He said that generally, 75 percent of internships are paid, while 25 percent are not.

Huffstutler said that business internships are frequently paid internships.

Christine Stakal, academic adviser and internship coordinator for the marketing department, said that most marketing internships are paid and that the pay usually ranges from $12-$18 per hour. She said that sometimes students get added bonuses, such as driving a company car.

Stakal said that an internship with a company may help students get a job with them after graduation. She also said that internships give students an edge and show potential employers that they have had real work experience.

“Basically it’s a test-drive for students, and quite frequently for companies,” Stakal said. She also said that internships are valuable because they give students an idea of what the work is actually about and they can find out whether they like it or not.