Should Internships Be a College Requirement?

Should Internships Be a College Requirement? image sharonSharon ZaharoffA few weeks ago I braved the freezing cold weather, the Times Square crowds, and my nerves to have an informational meeting with a woman from Random House in New York City. I had plenty of questions to ask and was hoping that maybe our meeting would lead to an interview in the future. What I learned was that having an internship is the most important step to making inroads in the publishing world. As an imminent graduate, I have had no such experience.

Although I applied to many different internships over the past two summers, I was not given an opportunity to intern. My program at Quinnipiac, The College of Arts and Sciences, does not require an internship for credit in order to graduate; however, Quinnipiac’s School of Communications does. After my informational interview, I started wondering if this requirement makes it easier for communications majors to get internships and, in turn, jobs upon graduation. If it is a requirement to graduate, is the school more motivated to help a student obtain an internship and are employers more willing to hire that student?

One of my friends is at Northeastern University in Boston—a school that has long been associated with co-op (work) requirements. Within nine months of graduating, 86% of Northeastern’s students enter the job market, according to their website. This compares to only 35% within six months at The College of Arts and Sciences at Quinnipiac. This difference in post-grad job placement makes me question why all schools don’t implement an internship requirement.

I thought about my friend, Taylor Healey, who is in the nursing program at Quinnipiac. For the final two years of study, the program places nursing majors into hospitals and other medical facilities in order to gain real experience. I interviewed Taylor to find out more about her clinical work and to explore whether or not internship requirements should be mandatory for all schools and all majors. She acknowledged that the concept of clinical experience is ideal, but pointed out how Quinnipiac’s program is flawed.

Pros: Each semester, nursing students are positioned in a few different medical facilities with different concentrations, depending on their location. For example, last semester Taylor went to Yale New Haven Hospital on Mondays for a pediatric clinical, returned on Wednesdays for a psychology concentration, and finished her week at St. Vincent’s on Fridays in medical surgery. “It is good to get a taste of the different concentrations to see what we like and don’t like; however, because time and availability are limited, nothing is solidified,” she told me.

I would think that this opportunity would be the perfect gateway to finding a job after college. But Taylor brought up a good point: What if your clinical work is in a state that you don’t live in? Perhaps you have no intention of looking for a job in the state that you attend college.

Cons: Taylor said, “Our school I don’t find to be particularly helpful because of the wide variety of locations.” Taylor told me that she has friends in the Boston area who work with one hospital over the course of the year. She believes that those hospitals are more likely to hire their interns because they are already familiar with each other and have good relationships. “I also know that other nursing programs in which second semester senior year consists solely of clinical and not class, which would definitely benefit a student in regards to job placement,” she said.

So, there are flaws in the program. That is to be expected with most programs, but the concept is still great. I have to wonder, why don’t all of the schools at Quinnipiac implement an internship requirement? Are there other universities that have these opportunities that I don’t know about?

What can we do to create this model in other areas of study/majors? Message and let me know what you think about these advantages!

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