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Internships guarantee a great job, except they don't

Updated on July 12, 2016

Like many enthusiastic and ambitious college students, I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be a successful writer, editor or a journalist. I was eager to prove to my family that English majors CAN land good jobs in their own field.

Internships are typically seen as the gateway to employment in the real world. Employers often extend you the request to join their company after a successful internship, but that isn't always the case.

Two weeks after graduation, I got hired at a local newspaper as a part-time journalist and I am extremely thankful for it (it's been a month since I have been working there). At the same time, this job doesn't pay my bills. I know several people who had at least one or more internships and experience working at their college newspaper, but were still not able to find a full-time job and had to work in retail part-time to make ends meet. Some are still struggling to land their first gig even several months after graduating.

I am not trying to undermine the importance of internships or discourage people to pursue an English degree, simply stating the reality of the real world. Although I haven’t landed a job that pays my bills, yet, but the one that I have is a result of my experience at a newspaper and a magazine internship.

In his commentary for Fortune magazine, CEO and Founder of Qualtrics Ryan Smith said when his company interviews students for internships, they mostly focus on previous internships, “how they performed, and what they learned,” rather than focusing on their course work.

While this is true, the employers also focus heavily on the amount of experience you have, especially if you are going in the media or publishing industry. Average jobs that you will come across will ask for 3-5 years of experience, and if you don't have it, you'll have to limit your job search.

So, a better solution to this is gain as much experience in your desired industry as possible. If you know, since your freshman year (or before), that you want to be a journalist/writer/editor etc., do everything in your power to find opportunities and garner as much experience as possible in your four years of college, because as I stated earlier many of these jobs require 3-5 years of experience, often in non-college settings. My experience is only a year and a half, so far.

So, again, no need to be discouraged, just do your best and go above and beyond to stand out. You can never have too much experience on your resume, especially if you are an entry level candidate. More is better.


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