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Rachel Lightner

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A critical step of being a student is to prepare for what comes after

Photo Credit Ryland West

Photo Credit Ryland West

Being an intern carries a negative connotation: order people complicated coffee drinks, run errands, complete the busy work. is all while doing it for little to nothing, or even worse: for free.

Sounds like a drag, right? But internships are so much more than the extra set of hands around the office. They let you roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, testing your interests and career options…so much more than learning how to order a half-caf, soymilk cappuccino with cinnamon.

Getting Your Feet Wet

Internships allow students to acquire beneficial skills, both professional and personal, that prepare them for life beyond college. It is a form of experience that is hard to obtain through a standard classroom setting.

Henry Conover, director of academic support services at Sierra Nevada College, believes it gives students a view into the world beyond school.

“I think the value of an intern- ship is that real-world experience,” said Conover. “In your mind you may want to pursue a certain career. The great thing about an internship is that practical aspect of getting your feet
wet in an area you think you’re interested in.”

Alumna Jamie Wanzek had her fair share of internships, and they have paid off. Wanzek, an interdisciplinary studies major, now works for Moonshine Ink, a local news publication, using her journalism degree. She had the opportunity to pursue an internship as early as high school, and participated in several different journalism-specific internships throughout college. She is also a former managing editor of the Eagle’s Eye newspaper.

“When you get thrown into that professional environment, you’re not being graded, you are being
assessed on your work ethic and your professionalism,” said Wanzek. “All those professional skills that you have to have in the real world, they matter so much when you graduate.”

Junior Mckenna Bean also had the opportunity to experience internships early on, attending a project-based high school in San Diego where she completed a 160- hour internship her junior year.

“This project taught me how important it was to get professional experience early and shaped the next few years of my life,” she said. Bean believes the service learning class in the interdisciplinary studies major is based on the same concept.

“Interning teaches you how to become a professional,” she said. “There is a different language that is spoken in the business world. Your walk, your talk, your demeanor all changes in a professional setting.”

Beginning the Pursuit

Never had an internship before? Don’t stress!

SNC Faculty work hard to help students match their interests to internships during college. At advising time, it is essential to take advantage of being one-on-one with advisors to look into potential internships. Although SNC does not have a career center or specific department, traditional internships are listed and posted online at the SNC website under the Jobs Board, and faculty also send out e-mail blasts with internship and job opportunities. For interdisciplinary students, there’s service learning. Interdisciplinary Studies Program Chair Katie Zanto discusses the importance of pursuing an internship during college.

“You get out into the real world and into your community, try stuff on, be held accountable for professionalism,” said Zanto. “Try on what it’s like to have people rely on you to show up at a certain time outside of the school environment.”

For students whose majors do not already have a form of internship embedded in their program, SNC also has a program that allows students to complete an intern-ship for credit. Fifty hours is equivalent
to one credit, 100 hours for two credits, and so forth. There is also the field work and education class taught by Katie Zanto, which specifically focuses on teaching.

“I had a teacher tell me freshman year how in college, take advantage of being a student, because anyone and everyone will open their door to you,” said Wanzek. “But the moment you graduate that door isn’t exactly open the way it was; everyone wants to give you that experience during college.”

Trial and Error

The first internship is not always the dream job.

Internships allow students to experiment with jobs they are interested in, without committing to a full-time position. Senior Weston Park experienced some trial and error with internships, but in the end it was still beneficial.

“I’ve had other internships where at the end of the day we ended up going our separate ways, but it was a great learn- ing experience,” said Park. He went on to pursue his interest in building sustainable sheds during interdisciplinary studies service learning class, an effort that evolved into a business.

Zanto agrees that even internships that aren’t ideal are beneficial in the long run. “Sometimes you complete an internship and realize it’s not what you want to do, and that is equally as valuable as ‘ is is what I love to do,’” said Zanto. “It’s scary to graduate and not have a job or direction but also not know what you don’t want to do.”

To land an internship, accountability is key, said Conover.

Showing up to the job fair on campus in the fall or following up on job postings is essential to making the rst steps.
“The job fair is an incredible opportunity that not enough students are taking advantage of,” said Conover. “ e more I can get the word out the better. Every step you take and every experience adds to your experience.”

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