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A head start—the benefits of internships

Today’s job market is fierce. No longer do good grades and a degree make the cut when it comes to securing good employment. Employers of today expect candidates to enter the job market with some relevant work experience under their belts.[1]

School-based co-ops, internships and apprenticeships can provide students with a head start on the path to their careers. For more on the benefits of and preparing students for internships and other work-based learning opportunities keep reading.

  • Increase employability: Co-ops, apprenticeships and internships provide learners with work experience that’s relevant to their chosen career path.[2] Along with work experience comes life experience—earning and managing money, working as part of a team and exposure to the professional world are all things that help increase a student’s skillset and employability.[3]
  • Guide career paths: Work-based learning provides students with a real life glimpse of their chosen career path. This experience can help students confirm, or on the contrary, reconsider career choices before they invest time and money.[4]
  • Provide job search skills: Searching for an internship or apprenticeship provides students with the job search skills they’ll need post-graduation. From identifying opportunities to resume preparation and interviewing—a student can never have too much practice.[5]
  • Offer networking opportunities: As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Work experience provides the opportunity to meet others within the community and the industry—an opportunity that’s priceless.

Ensure your class is prepared for school-based work opportunities with these best practices:

  • Industry research: Those preparing for an internship should be versed on what’s going on in their chosen industry. Have students review trade publications, industry-relevant blog posts and company websites before scheduling any interviews. Consider incorporating reading assignments, trend analyses or research into lesson plans to reinforce preparedness.[6]
  • Resume preparation: A great resume can help students get their foot in the door. The rest, of course, is up to them. Work not only on writing great resumes, but also on content for the resumes. Volunteers, for instance, have a 27 percent better chance of getting a job than their non-volunteering counterparts.[7] Provide those opportunities by organizing a class-wide volunteer or service project. Hopefully the incentive to participate is the opportunity in and of itself. But you may want to consider rewarding those who participate with class logo’d apparel such as T-shirts or baseball hats  that can be worn the day of volunteering. An awareness ribbon locker magnet  or silicon bracelet imprinted with the cause you are volunteering for is a nice way to recognize a job well done.
  • The importance of thank you: Harvard Business Review® describes the words “thank you” as “the two most important words” in business.[8] Instill in your students the value of a handwritten thank you for anyone who assisted in their internship search—parents, peers, teachers and employers.[9] School logo’d notecards and business cards can add an element of professionalism as well.

Showing students the benefits of internships and other work experience before they enter the workforce gives them a leg up in a very competitive job market. Those who land these prized internships and co-ops gain employability skills, job search experience and the opportunity to network with others.

[1] Boyington, Briana. “Understand the Differences Between a Co-op, Internship.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2015/03/31/understand-the-differences-between-a-co-op-internship>.

[2] Ibid

[3] “Benefits of Employing School Based Apprentices & Trainees.” Benefits of School Based Apprentices & Trainees. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.hgtwa.com.au/employers/benefits-of-school-based-apprentices-trainees.aspx>.

[4] “Benefits of Doing a Co-op or Internship.” Benefits of Doing a Co-op or Internship. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.career.vt.edu/COOP/Benefits.htm>.

[5] Ibid

[6] Matthews, Michael. “7 Tips For Internship Preparation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelmatthews/2011/03/31/7-tips-for-internship-preparation/#7966465a5a1e>.

[7] Collamer, Nancy. “Proof That Volunteering Pays Off For Job Hunters.”Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 24 June 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/06/24/proof-that-volunteering-pays-off-for-job-hunters/#4f6e6a303c6c>.


[8] Eckert, Robert. “The Two Most Important Words.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., 01 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://hbr.org/2013/04/the-two-most-important-words>.

[9] Matthews, Michael. “7 Tips For Internship Preparation.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2016. <https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelmatthews/2011/03/31/7-tips-for-internship-preparation/#7966465a5a1e>.

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