TAMPA, Fla.- Internships have become a necessity for undergraduate students interested in entering the fiercely competitive job market.
The career field continues to become more competitive so college students are forced to have more than a degree to even be considered for anything higher than an entry level position. The percentage of people being hired for jobs beyond entry level with only a Bachelor’s degree are slim and decreasing.
Internships have been around since the Victorian era in the late 1800s when the way to enter a career was by being an apprentice to someone who already occupied a position in that career. The reason internships are a trend today is that employers are able to be picky when choosing who they want to hire and can require prior experience in the field along with a college degree.
When discussing how she obtained her position as a consultant for Computer Sciences Corporation, Alison Barlow said, “After graduating from Florida State University in the 90’s it was the norm to not have relevant career field experience. The main distinguishing factors were GPA and extra-curricular involvement.”
With the current declining economy in the U.S. a great deal of layoffs have occurred with a number of 1,286 mass layoffs just in the month of March according to statistics found on the website of the United States Department of Labor. These layoffs are another factor adding to the trend of college students competing for positions in their career choices today.
The University of South Florida is aware of the importance of internships for students to be successful in getting a job in the career of their choice as graduating Mass Communications senior, Cori Campbell, said her advisor and professor encouraged her to start applying for internships her sophomore year of college. Campbell will be starting her fourth internship this summer at the St. Pete Times Forum and said she hopes it will lead to a job as it usually does.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers expect to hire 19.3 percent more college graduates this year than last year. NACE also reports that employers expect to hire an additional 7 percent of college graduates who are also interns. These statistics prove that internships give college graduates seeking career positions an advantage to competitors without the prior experience.
The Public Affairs and Emerge Tampa Bay Manager at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Camille Cacioppo, said in an email interview, “I hold my current position solely due to the two internships I had while in college at the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and with Jim Walter Homes.” Her supervisor at her first internship was one of the founding members of Emerge Tampa Bay and was the one who informed and encouraged her to apply for the position she currently holds.
While some jobs are available without having done an internship, both Disney and the St. Pete Times Forum are more willing to hire someone who has interned for them said Campbell. She said that their reasoning is because an intern will already be familiar with the company and their policies and they know the quality of work to expect from someone they have worked with before.
Aside from the experience obtained through an internship, connections to people already working in a career can help when applying and finding out about job openings. Universities are conscious to these advantages students receive with internships and majors like Mass Communications at the University of South Florida require students to take part in an internship program before attaining their degrees.
The trend of college students participating in internships is easily explained by the fact that, “while a high GPA is important to have, the real world experience individuals receive during an internship is priceless,” said Cacioppo. Until the job market becomes less competitive, the internship trend will continue to grow or at least stabilize.