Opportunity in internship

Looking back, Coury Carland, professor of political science, wishes he would have completed an internship during his undergraduate study.

Like many others, Carland was paying his own way through school and could not afford to take an unpaid internship.

“The prospect of working without pay is something a lot of students can’t do,” he said.

Students doing unpaid internships also take classes and may work at part-time jobs.

Yet if they are able to, Carland believes that students should take advantage of available internships.

“I think unpaid internships are valuable because you can’t really put a price on experience,” he said.

Brittany Rheaume, an elementary education junior, completed an internship at a banquet hall in her hometown through Michigan Works! earlier this year.

The internship didn’t pertain to her major, but it gave her an opportunity to make money.

She wouldn’t have done this internship if she didn’t receive pay.

Yet Rheaume said that she would complete a unpaid internship that related to her major.

Rheaume said that she understands that teaching jobs are hard to come by nowadays and that experience from an internship could help her get a job as a teacher.

“Teaching is my dream job, so if an unpaid internship gets me where I need to be then I would definitely go for it.” Rheaume said. “I’ll do anything to accomplish that goal.”

Heather Rising, interim assistant director of career services, said that students shouldn’t worry about becoming overwhelmed when taking on an unpaid internship.

Rising said that employers at unpaid internships are willing to work around students’ work and class schedules.

It is also possible for an unpaid internship to turn into a paid one.

Rising experienced this firsthand.

She started out as a volunteer at career services and slowly worked her way up.

“I knew that as long as I put in my hard work they would realize they needed to keep me,” she said.

She was eventually offered a paid internship and currently works full time at career services.

Rising said that students who do internships, paid or unpaid, put themselves in a good position.

“It doesn’t just help them get a job,” she said. “It helps them demand a higher salary.”

She explained that students are guaranteed a $1,000 to $5,000 increase in their starting salary if they have completed an internship.

Although it may be difficult for students to balance classes, a part-time job and an internship, Rising has faith that they can do it and emphasized that it’s only temporary.

Although students may be sacrificing a paycheck now, they may eventually be receiving a larger paycheck because of their internship experience.

“Just know that you are kind of delaying your reward,” Rising said.

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