Photo: Cameron School of Business students complete their 2018 internship positions with New Hanover Regional Medical Center
By Mel Beasley, CSB Marketing Assistant
It didn’t used to be the case, but as the job hunt has grown more competitive, employers are zeroing in on candidates who need the least amount of training right out of the gate. True, you may have a long list of previous work history, but that summer job tossing pizza crusts in the air isn’t going to do you any favors in front of the hiring manager at that accounting management firm you’ve had your eye on for months.
Yes, we know, the idea of an internship can be daunting and scary. First, many of them are only for three credit hours toward your course (without a paycheck) and require 12 hours of time per week whereas a typical class is only two to six hours per week. That’s a major commitment for a full-time student who has assignments to complete and possibly a part-time gig on top of that. Second, maybe you know everything there is to know about pizza and absolutely nothing about preparing a profit and loss statement for a major company. The stakes are higher in a real career position, so breezing through your shift is not an option anymore.
But here’s the truth: Internships will float your resume to the top of murky waters.
#1: Internships bulk up your résumé and land you that dream job
Research indicates employers are more likely to hire candidates who have relevant work experience as opposed to those who do not. “Forbes reports that the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce learned that 63 percent of students who completed a paid internship received a job offer after college,” reports Kathryn Knight Randolph, a contributor at FastWeb.
Nearly 90 percent of employers choose candidates with internship experience, according to research gathered by UNCW’s Career Center faculty. “Nearly 40 percent of interns are offered full-time jobs upon graduation. Differing from summer jobs, internships tend to be in a student's area of major study, include college credit, and require special evaluation from both employer and UI faculty.”
Employers are interested in new recruits they don’t have to spend too much time training. Experienced graduates are less risky to hire because they aren’t “testing” out career positions but, instead, are certain about their career plans since they have worked in a similar position beforehand.
#2: Internships lead to higher starting pay at many companies
Who would you pay more: The smart but fresh graduate with a little experience, or the complete newb with no experience? The answer is obvious. Knowledge is power because it comes with a paycheck.
The average starting base pay for new hires with internship experience is up 3.7 percent since last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). “Intern wages reached an average hourly rate of $18.73, which is up 67 cents,” NACE reported at the beginning of this year. “This continues a trend as wages for bachelor’s degree-level interns have been on the rise since 2013. The nominal increase in hourly wages for interns over the past five years is 15.5 percent.”
#3: Internships help with networking and professional references
When an unknown number calls your phone, you probably ignore it more times than not. Employers have a similar reaction when comparing a candidate they don’t know to one who was referred by someone they do know. Maintaining meaningful professional contacts can be a secret weapon for job seekers because a coworker or manager might be your key to the door.
“A vast, well-maintained professional network will likely be ripe with opportunity,” writes Heather R. Huhman at Business Insider. “While you may not be actively looking to change positions, it's likely your network will regularly pass along insight into a variety of career opportunities.”
In addition to a strong network, don’t underestimate the power of a good letter of recommendation. “Reading how you are appreciated by a past employer, professor or other person of authority, creates an intangible aura of competence around the image of you that your future employer is formulating,” says Career Trend. “For the employer, this eliminates some of the anxiety over making a hiring choice.”
A letter of recommendation solidifies your résumé for hiring managers and convinces them that you are exactly who you say you are on paper.
Visit the Cameron School of Business Office of Work Practice website for more resources, tips and CSB departmental requirements.