During the 2017–18 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 1.0 million associate’s degrees; 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees; 790,000 master’s degrees (National Center for Education Statistics)
Upon graduation, you will compete with nearly two million people to find employment. In 2015, about 77.2 percent of 25- to 34-year-old graduates with a bachelor’s or higher degree in the labor force had year-round, full-time jobs. This compared with 68.5 percent of those with an associate’s degree. Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree want to be among the 77.2%, not the 22.8% of unemployed individuals. One thing these statistics do not reflect is the number of months it takes to find a job.
The results of a Gallup poll reported that among bachelor degree graduates from 2002-2016, only 27% had a good job waiting for them upon graduation. It took one year or more for 16% to find a good job, and seven to 12 months for another 6%.
How can you increase job prospects?
University officials and employers maintain that partaking in an internship—or several before graduation is integral to finding full-time employment. Internships can set you apart from your peers upon graduation. More than ever, schools across the country are pushing students of all majors toward internships, and several have even added them to their graduation requirements.
The encouraging news is that relevant internships and jobs during college affects most majors. Meaningful work experiences are most helpful to those in engineering fields — 67% who strongly agree had a relevant job/internship had a good job after graduation (Gallup). Yet students in social sciences, hard sciences, and business who had a relevant internship are also more likely to have a job waiting for them after graduation. Even arts and humanities majors who had these types of relevant work experiences in college are more than twice as likely to have had a good job upon graduation.
Value of a Test Drive
A college degree is more valuable if it lands you in a job you love. An internship can help with finding something you want to do-instead of just a means of making money. For example, during your business major, you plan to seek a career in marketing. However, after taking an internship in this field, you discover you hate it. But, you realize from exposure during the internship that public relations appeal to you more. The value of the internship steered you towards a more rewarding career path. You could do an internship in PR to decide how strong your interest really is and whether you want to shift your studies in that direction.
Many schools have internships. However, you should review the respective programs to see which one suits you. Most schools provide a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, but you will still conduct your research into which school most appeals to you. It is the same with colleges/universities offering internships.
One example is a school, located in Fairfax, Virginia, that combines internships and employment assistance. George Mason University is a non-profit school located near the nation’s capital. Students believe this “perk” helps them secure internships. HireMason, the university’s extensive job, and internship database is their source where employers and alumni can recruit students. Also, each year, more than 450 employers take part in on-campus hiring events like the on-campus interviewing program and two-day multi-industry career fairs.
In addition, George Mason’s Career Services offers on-campus job fairs that connect students to meaningful internships. This service helps you network with Mason alumni and provides workshops in polishing your resume, writing a compelling cover letter, and interviewing techniques.
Another reason to review each school’s internship programs is the variety of some. There are domestic and international internships. Those in the arts, architecture, archaeology, and others may benefit from an overseas internship.
As a prospective college student, you can look at the flexibility of the internships: part-time or full-time, paid or unpaid, during the school year or the summer. Will you receive academic credit by the school or as part of a student-developed learning plan?
One school that assists financially with internships is George Washington University in Washington, D.C. For the second year in a row, GW is the top school for landing an internship, according to Business Insider. Students have thousands of options for DC-area internships in health, tech, nonprofits, the arts, and, of course, politics. They offer up to $3,000 to offset an unpaid internship through the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund. Past students have interned at the Department of Homeland Security, Discovery Communications, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, Google, and the New Yorker.
Internships can be invaluable. Especially when coupled with the school’s employment assistance services. Supportive and engaged alumni can also add benefit to a university’s interns. Therefore, do not underestimate the power of blending internships with your study plan.