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Internships important for job experience

When applying for a job, applications will ask for a résumé and require a certain amount of experience in a particular field. However, after graduating from college, students do not always have the amount of experience that companies are looking for. A way to add that experience to a résumé is through internship opportunities.

“Through internships, you can gain some valuable experience in your field and get a better understanding of that major or field,” Angie Thomas, associate director for career and professional development, said. “You get the opportunity to learn how things operate, ask questions and test out the industries.”

Thomas said the first step to looking for an internship, is for a student to know the extent of their major.

“Make sure you know which direction you want to take for the path you want to go into,” she said. “Once you know your major, start looking into industries that you would prefer. Make sure that your résumé is up to date, then look for internships on various platforms.”

Currently, there are 855 internship opportunities on Handshake, accessible through, a website designed to help college students and alumni find internships and jobs in their career field.

“There are a lot of opportunities, and not all of them are in Southeast Texas,” Thomas said. “Handshake is a great start for students to look for opportunities. These opportunities range from Facebook to Amazon, Google to Nike, the Astros to Dynamo Dash Youth Soccer, and are all around the United States.”

There are a variety of platforms for students to find internships other than Handshake, such as LinkedIn, Indeed,, Glassdoor, Idealist, Looksharp, and more.

A key to success with regards to internships, Thomas said, is through starting early and being prepared for each opportunity that is presented.

“If a student gets an interview, I would recommend that they practice,” she said. “(The Center for Career and Professional Development) provides mock interviewing so that they are prepared and have planned for that interview.”

Outside of interview preparations, it is also important to keep your résumé up to date and network with professionals, Thomas said.

“Networking is huge,” she said. “We provide different events where students can participate and possibly get internships through those events.”

For students who go to a networking event and meet somebody, Thomas recommends getting the professional’s business card and follow up with them immediately after the event.

“Thank them and let them know that you enjoyed the conversation, and that they were able to provide a lot of insight on this opportunity,” she said. “A lot of students don’t take that extra time to show their gratitude.”

For students who have a particular company they would like to intern or work for, Thomas said they should reach out via email or phone call and ask about possible opportunities.

“I have seen some companies create internships because there was a student who was proactive and just asked,” she said.

Thomas also recommends participating in more than one internship over the course of a college career.

“One of the good things about multiple internships is that you get to see the way that different industries do things,” she said. “It also helps with the transferable skill sets in order to see how things can be applied in various ways through the different companies. Working with other companies, you can see what culture you fit the best in.”

Something to be thinking about when searching, Thomas said, is if the internship will be paid or unpaid.

“You want to make sure it’s not going to be a position where the company is using you,” she said. “If it is going to be unpaid, it definitely has to reflect some type of educational purpose for that student.”

Thomas tells her students who are doing an internship, especially if it is unpaid, that they do not need to be working more than 15 hours a week.

“This is strictly to gain the experience and, although you are helping that employer, the purpose is for the employer to be helping you, not to replace a part time worker,” she said.

Students need to be proactive and look for opportunities, Thomas said.

“Large companies tend to search at least a year out, maybe a semester out, so that is why it is good to plan and prepare ahead,” she said. “Large companies have deadlines and other things that they need to do. These are things that you cannot procrastinate.”

For more information visit the Center for Career and Professional Development in the Galloway Business Building, Suite 102 or call the office at (409) 880-8878.

Story by Morgan Collier, UP contributor

Category: Features