The Importance of an Internship

Joann Wolwowicz

Many students enter their freshman year confused as to where they would like to end up in life after college. Other students come in with a set plan as to what they are interested in, and they know exactly where they want to end up. Usually, during freshman year, confusion either grows or subsides depending on the various classes students take and whether certain topics actually interest the student at all. With many majors available and a variety of classes open as electives, students can sample a variety of disciplines to really narrow down their interests. However, a student may or may not truly realize where his or her interests lie until he or she gets to experience their potential career first hand.

Usually around junior year in college, students are encouraged, and in many cases it is a requirement, to complete an internship. For students who are still questioning career goals, there is no better way to learn if a particular career is right for them. If a student’s major covers a multitude of disciplines, interning could help a student sort out the different options and really determine where he or she would be happiest. If it’s not a requirement for every major, then it should be, because it is very beneficial overall.

This past summer I completed an internship at the Westchester County Forensic Laboratory in Valhalla, NY. It was a one month program and primarily an observational internship. Though my time at the laboratory was brief, I can honestly say that it was the most beneficial month of any summer vacation I have ever had. I went into the internship as most students do: expecting to learn new things, build on topics I’ve already covered, and gain experience and contacts for the future. However, I feel as if I gained so much more than just those things.

After having completed my internship, I realized that my interests where headed in the right direction, but I could narrow them down even more. Surprisingly, I noticed that I did have some interests in areas I never even considered and determined that other sections were just not the right fit for me.

In addition, being able to speak to people who worked there really helped shape some of my choices going into my senior year. Of course, here at the university, professors and advisors are here to help. But sometimes, it really is important to speak to people who are currently working in the field you are most interested in. Their insight helps answer those looming questions about the scary world after graduation. If it was not for my internship, I would have never considered applying to graduate school at all.

For those of you just beginning your search for an internship or those of you still considering whether you would like to complete one, consider carefully. Make an informed decision and do your research, because you want to get the most out of your internship as possible. Find a program that will be as rewarding to you as my internship was. The more you take out of it, the more it is worth it. Try to find a program that will let you experience the type of work you are interested in. And remember that you only get out what you give in. So go in positive and willing to learn. You may be in for some surprises yourself.