Toward the end of their career at UTC, many students are required to complete an internship. These can range from 120 to 300 mandatory hours of typically unpaid work, fit into one semester, depending on a student’s major.
Though mostly communication students, The Echo staff is comprised of a variety of majors and focuses, all required to complete at least one internship in our four or more years at UTC. Some members are double majoring and must squeeze in two internships, even if one is potentially of no real use to their future career.
A number of problems come with required internships. Some feel the experience and connections gained are worth the inconveniences, whereas some see these internships as a burden eating up their time and money. One even referred to it as slave labor.
Our thoughts on the internship process are mostly specific to the communication department, but can most likely be applied across the board.
The probability of landing an internship that’s well-paid, or paid at all, is low. This can create a huge financial burden for students, who are already notoriously broke. When completing an internship for credit, the student must pay for the internship class itself, causing some to have to take out additional loans. Essentially, students are paying to work for free.
Since the internship can take up quite a bit of time, some find it hard to hold a paying job in addition to school, internship and other responsibilities, thus creating more of a financial strain.
Many members mentioned the general disorganization of the internship process through the communication department. Some steps seem more like unnecessary hoops to jump through, making it a more stressful process than it needs to be. Additionally, the department seems to lack connections within the city, creating a small and unvaried pool of potential internship opportunities for students.
One member feels they are gaining plenty of experience through their current job, but since this position was not gained through the internship process and does not completely line up with what the internship coordinator sees fit, they must spend more time and money on work unrelated to their career goals.
We have had some success. A couple of us have had great experiences with internships and are grateful for the work they’ve been able to do in the city. We recommend taking the initiative and reaching out to organizations you feel are best for you, instead of letting professors choose one for you.
All in all, we feel internships can be a great way to gain knowledge and experience and boost your resume, but there are some definite downsides. If you can find something you enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis, it may make going into debt a little less gut-wrenching.