Students look to internships for job experience
By: April Robertson
With the state of the job market still in doubt, some students are turning to internships, which not only provide valuable experience and career contacts, but can also take students in unexpected directions, they said.
UA student Jessica Powviriya interned last year at University Relations, where she wrote press releases, learned the basics of videography, wrote for local magazines and conducted interviews on TV.
Through her experience at the on-campus internship, Powviriya said she was provided opportunities and advantages that other students might not receive.
“The position gave me free reign on projects, and it was a very open environment that was comfortable enough for me to ask questions,” she said.
The nature of the internship helped shape her writing abilities, and also gave her experience working with various supervisors. Powviriya said that each of her superiors had differing viewpoints, and this allowed for a more broad education about the same basic principles.
Powviriya is now working on her master’s degree, but she said the University Relations internship taught her more than any of her classes did.
“They gave us responsibilities and expected us to finish them,” she said.
For some students, internships are not limited to those listed on Web sites and connected to colleges.
Eurostuma, a company that produces household items, needed a business position filled, so an internship position was created for chemistry major Courtney Peterson.
During her six weeks with TCT, the Eurostuma company share in Portugal, Peterson’s main objective was to introduce a new product – but she was also allowed to see the actual production process and the professional technology after spending weeks on research and working on scaled-down versions.
“It definitely had the feeling of a business trip, since I had to smile constantly and be on my best behavior,” Peterson said.
Her biggest challenge, she said, was working in a country where she didn’t know the language and worked closely with two women who didn’t know any English.
But when Peterson’s workload was completed in four weeks, she felt the experience was well worth the difficulty of a language barrier, particularly because the remaining two weeks were filled with travel to surrounding Portugal cities.
However, not all internships lack the comfort of an on-campus position or the excitement of an international summer job.
Architecture major Kayla Freeman dreaded the telemarketing internship that her father arranged for her. Eventually, though, Freeman turned the job into a creative opportunity, expressing her boredom and frustration through journal-like Facebook notes that detailed her avoidance of daily internship activities.
“I tried out different accents and used many aliases when calling prospective clients, I brushed up on my Spanish watching Mexican soap operas while hanging out with my friends Juanita and Jorge in the break room, and I wrote a children’s story, ‘Little Larry and the Big Scary,’ potty training at its finest,” Freeman wrote. “I switched the decaf and regular coffee and later skipped out at noon to catch a baseball game with the boys.”
Even though Freeman clearly didn’t enjoy her internship, she encourages other students to choose internships and work experience wisely.
“Any internship is a step in the right direction,” she said.
At the UA Career Development Center, officials help students find internships through listings on the eRecruiting feature of the CDC Web site, Career.uark.edu.