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The college experience isn’t about doing Jello shots until you puke, being the next “Rudi”, or taking your math expertise to a casino. If one were to accept the Hollywood version of college, then one might think so.

Even more important than the opportunity to study a subject or discipline, a student has the opportunity to learn about him or herself. Jello shots are great, don’t get me wrong, but these four years provide opportunities that will never again be so abundant. They represent a chance to grow intellectually and emotionally. One of these opportunities which is too often overlooked is the summer internship.

“Seven years of college down the drain. Might as well join the Peace Corps.”

Summer internships are the key to finding work after you’ve finished your studies. In a tough job market, having some relevant experience can be very helpful in landing that first job in your chosen field. Admissions officers know this as they often try to sell students on their school’s many student internship opportunities and more and more prospective students ask about them during the admission process.

In my community, colleges have teamed with local businesses to offer internships in all kinds of fields. Scottrade and IBM offer opportunities for those majoring in business related disciplines. Those studying environmental engineering can work summers at Vecoplan, alternative energy sources being a key element of their business. Journalism students can apply for an internship at The News & Record, our city’s largest newspaper, or at any number of online publications.

“Did Doogie Houser just steal my car?”

Let’s say you’ve decided that a summer internship is probably a good idea. That’s great. But don’t wait to start your search. These positions are hard to get, particularly paying ones, so get started with your search right away. Like, NOW. Visit your college’s career services department. Stop by the Dean’s office and ask if there are any alumni in your field in need of summer interns. There are also online resources available. is a great resource that enables you to search for internships by your field of study or location.

The important thing is to start your search today. If you don’t, someone else will steal that ideal job opportunity from right under your nose.

“We’ll be accepting donations in the form of cash, visa, and full frontal nudity.”

If you’ve found an internship opportunity from outside your college network, check with your professor to make sure your college accepts this experience in exchange for academic credit. Put your academic advisor in touch with the business to ensure that the experience is applicable and that the hours spent correspond appropriately with the number of credits given.

“My two boys, I put one through college and the other I put through a wall. Your papa loves you. He’s lookin’ out for ya. Look out for him.”

It’s easy to forget about the bills until they come due. With the increases in tuition come added burden on all those involved, parents and students. Loans are bigger than in the past and interest rates higher for student loans. A summer internship will help offset these tuition costs, paying dividends immediately as well as after graduation.

Do you have any other tips for students considering internship opportunities?

*The quotes above each paragraph are from the following college genre movies (in this order): Animal House, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Van Wilder, and Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School

Featured photo credit: The Old Adalie Plain via photopin cc