After four of what many consider to be the best years of their lives, the next step for many college graduates is entering the workforce. While we like to say we’re focusing on our studies and social lives, the truth is during school many of us are monitoring the job prospects of our older peers. We’re curious where they live, what they do, and certainly what they’re making.
Unfortunately, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) October 2010 data, the unemployment rate for youth ages 16 to 19 is 27.1% and 15.2% for ages 20 to 24. As we have been told by everyone from the media to our parents, right now is a rough time to enter the workforce.
An internship allows you to gain real work experience, while also working in a field which could possibly present a future career interest. In some cases you may find you’re not as interested in a field as you thought you were. But either way you’re gaining valuable work experience. One of my colleagues told me that one of the best parts about an internship are the questions you’re able to ask your new colleagues, within reason of course.
Coworkers have worthwhile advice about their careers, from how they started to how they have advanced up the ladder, and in most cases they’ll be more than willing to talk to you. An internship is also a great opportunity to improve your networking skills. In this day and age, networking can play a big role in securing full-time employment and possible career advancement. Interns are constantly meeting new people, so making an impression is crucial as you never know when a full-time position may open up.
When you graduate college your preference is to have a secure paying job. However sometimes circumstances prevent that from happening. While internships may not be ideal, they provide great work experience and allow you to make important contacts that just may help you land your first real job.
- Department of Labor Internship Program:
- Federal Government internships:
- Workforce Recruitment Program:
- Washington Post article on the positives of federal internships:
Ed. Note: Michael Huberman is a policy advisor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy and a recent graduate of the College of Charleston, where he majored in Political Science.