By JACKSON DOWNEY
Students are often told that internships are a great way to gain experience for the workforce, but internships can be a great deal of work, sometimes without compensation.
A very popular internship among students at UMW is the one associated with the graduate education program. Upon entering their graduate year, education students begin teaching at local schools full-time. Erin Altschuler and Caitlin Lucas spoke about their experiences with the education internship. Both had previously been practicum students, teaching between 20 and 40 hours per semester. Altschuler, who is currently teaching first grade, described the internship as “far more eye-opening” than her practicum experience.
“It’s much closer to what I will be doing next year, so I feel like I am gaining a lot more this semester,” said Lucas, who is currently teaching eighth grade math. “I realize how much patience and dedication it takes to be a full-time teacher… It was very different when I only came in for a few hours twice a week.”
When asked about her internship experience, Altschuler said, “I’ve learned to set expectations early on. This is something that wasn’t as clear during practicum because I wasn’t seeing the day-to-day classroom experience.
Altschuler said that she has gained a lot of information from her internship, saying, “One of the things I have learned is that kids will surprise you with what they know and how they think… I know that next year I will set up expectations with my students early on so that I don’t run into a lot of problems.”
Other students find internships with businesses locally or back home during the summer. One such student is junior marketing major, Jacob Atkinson, who worked at SOC LLC the past summer and into this school year. His duties primarily included creating a database for the business development team.
“I learned that having good time management can really benefit an individual in the workplace… Another thing I noticed was that professionalism goes beyond education and includes how you work with others and conduct yourself in the workplace,” said Atkinson. “I have made a lot of connections which I hope to use in my future careers and appreciate what I have been able to do at SOC.”
Senior accounting major, Matt Candy, worked within the finance department of Professional Solutions Developed LLC this past summer. While there, he was responsible for investigating accounting information systems to see if the company should change software which would change the budgeting process.
“I learned how to use real-world software, something I wouldn’t have been exposed to in the classroom [setting],” said Candy. “I also learned about managing government contracts which is something that I am interested in going into upon graduation. This internship provided a glimpse inside the financial side of government contracting and provided practical skills which I can contribute to my classes.”
It is clear that while internships can vary in their fields and responsibilities, useful skills can easily be gained from experience in a setting similar to one expected upon graduation. Internships will continue to be popular among students wishing to get more out of their college experience and gain qualities which can be applicable to future career paths.