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The Blue & Gray Press | July 25, 2017

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Staff Ed: Grades mean nothing without a “real world” experience to back it up

Staff Ed: Grades mean nothing without a “real world” experience to back it up

By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF

The University of Mary Washington college bubble includes five minute walks down College Avenue to friends’ homes, Tuesday night Bingo at The Underground, massive barbecues on Ball Circle and the like, but unfortunately only for four to five years.

Students, specifically juniors and seniors, might be unnerved by their imminent graduation dates and fearful of what the “real world” brings. Maybe if they had more insight into what post-graduation life looked like, they would view it differently and even more openly. Well, they’re in luck.

Internship application season begins in autumn with students frantically updating their resumes, drafting cover letters, asking for letters of recommendation and adding to their writing samples or portfolios.

The craziness winds down in April when students begin receiving offers, justifying their hard work and promising to provide a summer complete with experience, insight and connections.

Experience is one of the most important things current students can arm themselves with when preparing to enter the workforce, and internships give them just that. Understanding how to make a proper phone call on behalf of a company, learning how to allocate donations to a nonprofit’s different functions and even knowing how to stock the office with proper supplies are all things internships can teach students. Walking into job interviews with this kind of know-how is invaluable.

Not only will your internship experience make you a more qualified job applicant, but you will leave with more insight and possibly a clearer career trajectory. Maybe you hated your summer internship and have decided that hedge fund management is not your cup of tea. Maybe you loved your internship at the Smithsonian and now your life’s goal is to be a museum curator.

Either way, you now have a better idea of what you want to do or do not want to do, giving you a clearer path to make your next steps.

In order to take those steps, you will need connections. Connections are made by working on projects with supervisors, asking superiors questions about their work experience and even engaging in conversation while waiting for the office coffee pot to fill up. After interning, you can turn to your new connections for letters of recommendation, advice and even jobs.

We at The Blue & Gray Press encourage UMW students to take the necessary steps to set themselves up for success. Attend a resume workshop like the one the Career Center hosted this past Monday. Show up to a Job / Internship fair like the one held in the UC’s ballroom this past Tuesday with your business attire on and new resume in hand.

Ask for letters of recommendation from past employers and professors, and submit an OpEd to blueandgray.views@gmail.com if you are in need of fresh writing samples for applications.

If students work hard and take initiative now, they will reap the benefits later. With that said, go get ‘em Eagles.

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