While in the midst of college years, students can often conclude that experience is by far the best teacher. An internship can help college students decide if they chose the most suitable career field for their future.
Dr. Jim Ritter, director of enrollment management and student service at the Kent State University at Trumbull, said that internships are an excellent opportunity for a student to decide upon their professions.
"It's a win-win situation," Ritter said. "Students get useful experience in their fields. Internships give students the opportunity to test out a company, and they also give employers the opportunity to see whether or not the student is suited for the profession."
One of the most important aspects of an internship is on-the-spot training. Dr. Craig Campbell, professor and chair of the department of geography at Youngstown State University, said some recent fields in which geography interns learn skills include remote sensing, satellite imagery, and working with global positioning systems and graphic information systems.
"We had interns working at the City of Youngstown, doing mapping with the auditor's departments," Campbell said. "We had interns working with Trumbull County Planning Commission, doing a variety of tasks such as GIS mapping, working with the auditor's department and working with tax maps."
Finding an internship is all about transitioning comfortably from classroom atmosphere to career experience, work, training and discipline.
"Internships give students real-world experience, and several of our interns received jobs at the places they interned for while at Youngstown State University," Campbell said.
Ed Davis, a geography graduate of YSU, is a program manager at Eastgate Regional Council of Governments in Youngstown, working in his field of study.
"We try to hire one intern every semester," Davis said. "Interns get experience with computer mapping that is concerned with transportation-related material. We also do work with our interns with traffic count data and crash data."
Davis said that an internship helps students to see what a job in their selected profession is really about.
"Students see what their job is like in the real world, different from the classroom," Davis said. "Students work alongside professionals, gaining work experience. We try to give interns a lot of different tasks so they can learn a variety of skills."
John Marino, business management associate professor and business management coordinator at KSU Trumbull, said that it is important for employers to oversee an intern's activity.
"Interns have to seek out an employer who acts as a coordinator, who is somebody to guide the students through the internship experience," Marino said.
The best internships are the internships where the employers allow their interns to work in different departments of the company, he said.
"Internships are beneficial for a student because they allow them to see the inside of an organization or company," Marino said. "Internships give students hands-on experience in a business-oriented real-world environment."
Zachary Thobe, a senior at The Ohio State University, said that co-ops and internships give students a chance to evaluate themselves, their skills and the company they are interning for during college. Thobe is a mechanical engineering major who has interned at Dominion East Ohio and did two co-ops at Marathon Petroleum.
"It was nice working for Dominion East Ohio," Thobe said. "As a young engineer, this internship gave me valuable experience and gave me a lot of responsibility."
Thobe also did two co-ops at Marathon Petroleum.
"I did a variety of things at my first co-op at Marathon Petroleum," Thobe said. "I was placed with a mentor who was an engineer. As I got more comfortable with the co-op position, Marathon Petroleum gave me more projects."
When Thobe completed his
co-op at Marathon Petroleum, he said he was working on projects that would be assigned to full-time employees. He came to the realization that he wanted to be a project engineer after he did his co-op and internship at Marathon Petroleum.
Ritter said that internships give students time to decide whether they want to tweak or change their majors and minors, so it is important for students to select an internship before their senior year in college.
"We encourage students to start their internships during their junior year," Ritter said. "We tell students to do their internships before their senior year just in case they decide they want to switch their fields."
"Internships and co-ops teach students to handle responsibility, manage their time and work with others," Thobe said. "It gives students a chance to evaluate themselves to see if there are any areas they need to improve on during their internship. Students should ask themselves, 'Is this job something they could see themselves doing for the rest of their lives?'"