Column: The hardships of finding internships

Sam Nowotnik, Staff Writer

An internship is the first time many students have the chance to put their lifetime of skills and school experiences to the true test. It may be nerve wracking, stressful, exciting or anything between. The process looks different for everyone depending on your major, grade status and past experience.

Despite some people who make it seem easy, it’s not an easy part of a college student’s career for a list of reasons.

When I applied to my first internship and it said I was one out of the seventy applicants, my heart dropped and it seemed like what I thought was a simple process could drag on for months. This was the last thing I needed to realize when I already felt a crunch for time in my daily schedule.  

The weight and pressure that is placed on your shoulders to get an internship is tremendous, and facing possible rejection along with it makes the process even more difficult.

For some students, an internship may be required to graduate. Sometimes you may need an internship to become fully employed after college which is everyone’s main priority after college. The ironic part of this is that many internships require past experience. 

One particularly frustrating aspect of the internship search is how different companies approach compensation for interns.

With inflation increasing daily, college students need paid internships. Most of the time, paid internships require more qualifications which make them harder to obtain. This leaves unpaid internships to be more obtainable.

Although living costs are soaring, many college students find themselves taking unpaid internships due to lack of options. If it comes down to it, some students feel that they have no choice but to work for free just to be able to get an internship completed and to put it behind them. That decision is incredibly hard when you are asked to dedicate so much time and effort towards a job that doesn’t compensate and even require you to leave a paying job you already have. 

For those who decide to take an unpaid internship, GVSU does offer 10 $500 “Career Center Internship” scholarships each semester. While not everyone that applies will receive money, this scholarship could make a difference in students’ internship experience.

The next concern when it comes to internships is looking for a job that is safe and legitimate.

Using a website, like Handshake, that has an affiliation to the university is one of the safest ways to find an internship with a reputable organization that matches your interests. Sites like Handshake allow you to message current students from your school or others in the area have taken that position before to ask questions about their experience . It’s so important to make sure the job has safe management that is looking out for you, compensates you and actually follows through with what they say you will be doing in your role.

Overall, whether your internship is a great experience or a bad experience you will come out of it with some sort of knowledge on what you want your next step to be.

While internships may come with the opportunity to continue working with a company or organization in the future, they are primarily a way for students to gain experience and grow their network before graduation.