How to Find an Educational Work Experience
Photo: Harvard Graduate School of Education
Although many colleges are not currently offering full academic credit for entering a career as a teacher, the amount of students submitting resumes for internships as an alternative has grown rapidly in recent years. This has led to a gradual change in the field of education: a focus on less academic courses, like job shadowing, and a growing number of college students looking to have a career change before graduation.
For college graduates looking to have an innovative career on campus, the idea of going to an internship for paid real life work experience is a huge option, and many colleges now offer internships, or work-study, as part of their public academic programs. This is referred to as “real world” experience for academic credit, and it gives many students a way to learn practical experience in a real job before they even graduate.
Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking to switch fields or you’re a returning student who wants to develop practical experience in a field of specialization, internships can be a huge help in terms of re-learning both skills and concepts for the future.
There are ways to make sure you choose an internship wisely, though. Internships can be a mixed bag, providing experiences in many different fields, allowing different types of students to figure out what they want to do professionally.
One of the main things to consider when choosing an internship program is whether or not it provides the types of job experiences that you are looking for. If you’re a young person and are looking to get a new career perspective, you might consider a summer job with an organization like a nonprofit that you feel strongly about working with, and incorporate it into your internship as an advantage in your application. These types of organizations might be great for people just interested in real world work experience.
There are various job shadowing programs available for students at different schools, letting them shadow existing professionals so they learn the ins and outs of the career field, including work related tasks. Some of these programs might have even shorter work experience weeks than many major internship programs, and it might be worth considering working in a career you aren’t planning on immediately doing.
You can find listings for unpaid internships at companies and organizations all over the web. Some interns work as part of a team in which work experience is given as a valued asset rather than something to be taken for granted. In that case, a typical experience can include going on shopping trips and eating meals with a team, giving you a bigger idea of what a job of that type of nature might be like.
The latter scenario does not typically correlate with a major role as a team member, but is more likely to be a part of a mentor role. Even if that’s not what you’re looking for in an internship, it will still give you a feel for what that is like. Both situations give you a feel for the type of work that comes with a specific job title, and the number of people involved. The people you’ll be working with on a team could be instrumental to getting you along.
Possible internships for this summer are limited, but there are plenty of options for job shadowing. You can look at some of the postings on Full Scope or fullseasonsessions.com, or send out resumes to colleges or organizations and see what they post for you. Your final destination will depend on the situation in which you’re in.
An internship at a college or university can offer a chance to work with a lot of people in a lot of different fields, with the potential to build relationships to pay off later in an actual job.
Editor’s Note: The original version of this story included the following text: An internship might offer a chance to work in a business or industry you’ve never really seen before. You can read the updated version here, with more accurate information.