One of the challenges of working toward a college degree that students might face at one point or another is finding, and successfully completing, an internship. Intended as a means of introducing students to the sort of workplace they might end up pursuing a career at, internships offer a chance to learn from contemporary professionals in a student’s chosen field of study as well. “It helps you not only make connections within the workforce,” said English department chair Jeffrey Andelora. “You are learning from those that do it every day.”
A wide variety of degrees offered at MCC require successful completion of an internship, however finding a position could prove difficult to the uninitiated. For those that do struggle, MCC provides different avenues of assistance to help attain this goal. Career and Re-Entry Services gives students access to connections with businesses and organizations, as well as information on what requirements an internship must meet. “We partner with all kinds of agencies across the Valley,” said MCC internship coordinator Debby Smith. “The majority are paid internships; we encourage that.”
Career services also provides useful data on the interview process, and what qualifications might be necessary to be accepted into a particular intern program. “We always ask for their resume first, to make sure they are marketable,” Smith said. “If they don’t feel comfortable interviewing we can also give them a mock interview, and give feedback.” Becoming knowledgeable about prospective businesses can be beneficial when trying to be accepted into an internship they offer. Just as when applying for a job, knowing more about the organization and the responsibilities an intern are entrusted with can give one an advantage over competing peers.
The prospect of paid internship programs, which are offered across several disciplines, can also help students cover their expenses while in school. “I think that the best internship opportunities typically pay,” said MCC digital arts instructor Chris Todd. Taking initiative and finding an intern program on one’s own is another possibility; the caveat of taking this route is that one should ensure that the program meets the criteria for their degree’s internship course before committing to it. “They should stop by the office, and we’ll give them the information on the requirements,” Smith said.
MCC also offers other avenues for students to apply what they learn in a professional environment, including service learning. “I do service learning in my advanced graphic design class,” Todd said. “What I do is, I ask a huge database of nonprofits if they need graphic design work done, and my students go ahead and provide that work.” The exposure to the professional world is one parallel between what Todd’s class does and what students in internships are exposed to. “Students get real world, client based experience,” Todd said. To find out more about internships, including preapproved programs, go to www.mesacc.edu/career/.