Internships and Extracurriculars and Post-Graduation, Oh My!

(From The Campus Lantern – February 19, 2015) 

College is all about partying till two in the morning, sleeping for a few hours, and then rolling out of bed for your nine o’clock class hung-over, right?  Wrong.  Well, kind of.  College is about learning how to manage your time between fun and academics.  Work hard, play hard.  It’s a motto that everyone should live by.

Another misconception about college is that everyone who gets a degree will get a job right out of college.  That’s wrong again.  The piece of paper that Eastern gives you at the end of your time here does not guarantee anything except for a crippling pile of student loans.  If a college degree isn’t the surefire way to success after college, then what is?  Extracurricular activities and internships!

You can skip every class and fail every exam or you can attend every class and ace every exam.  Obviously, whether you have a GPA of 1.0 or a 4.0 is important to a certain extent, but what employers are looking for are real-life skills.  Written and verbal communication skills.  Multi-tasking skills.  Ability to work independently or as a team member.  Are these skills listed on your resume?  If they are, then you’re all set.  If they’re not, you should continue reading.

Maybe you know that it takes more than a degree to get a job after college but it’s all just so overwhelming and you don’t know where to start.  Well, I’ll tell you.  You have to pinpoint an interest you have.  Do you like hiking?  Join the Eastern Outdoors Club.  Are you really into feminism?  Join the National Organization for Women.  Do you want to be a teacher?  Join the Education Club.  The extracurricular activities you are a part of don’t have to necessarily be oriented to the profession you’re going to pursue after graduation.  What’s important is what you do in the activities.

Say you’re an avid knitter.  Perfect!  Join the new knitting club at Eastern, the Knit Wits.  Other than giving yourself some de-stressing time that isn’t academic-oriented, being a part of a club provides you with future leadership opportunities.  You start off as a member of the club.  You attend most meetings and some events.  All is well.  The year after, you attend every meeting and you’re feeling really interested in working to make the club the best it can be.  So, the next semester you decide to run for an e-board position.  Bam!  Now you’re secretary.  The year after, maybe you’re president.  Really, it’s that easy.  If you’re passionate about the club, it’s easy to move up and gain more skills as an e-board member.

Marketable skills that club e-board members gain, such as event planning and interpersonal communication skills, are important when trying to land a job after graduation.  However, if you can say that you’ve interned for a company in college, that’s really the icing on top of the cake.  I’d say to aim for an internship that is going to offer you some experience more than simply filing papers and answering phone calls.  Your internship should be more career-oriented than your club extracurriculars.  If you’re interested in working for a bank after graduation, it might not make sense to intern with an animal shelter.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you can gain useful skills in any internship, but it’s probably best to try and break into the field you’re interested in working in after college.  Finally, a paid internship is ideal because you can start paying off that crippling debt I mentioned earlier.

Rachael Skinner, Peer Counselor for the Center for Internships and Career Development here at Eastern agrees, “I don’t think many students realize that Eastern’s goal as a liberal arts school is to immerse its students in real life situations through experiential learning; and we have all the opportunities and resources waiting for the students to take advantage of.

I know not everyone has the time or ability to take on much more than five college classes and 300 hours of homework each week, but if you do, I urge you to do the most that you can here at Eastern.  Go beyond what is required and push out of your comfort zone!  Go ahead and build that resume!

To take a look at the different clubs we’ve got here at Eastern, click here: http://bit.ly/17jAnBD.  To set up an appointment with the Center for Internships and Career Development, call (860) 465-4559, email careers@easternct.edu, or stop by Wood Support Services, 2nd Floor.  You won’t regret it!

Writer’s Note: I don’t actually guarantee that you’ll get a job out of college even if you do join every club and take part in nine internships – but the extra experience can’t hurt, can it?!

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