Opinion: We need a campus-wide internship requirement

Christina Bucciere is a senior journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Christina Bucciere

I’m going to throw some numbers out there. They will hurt. Stay with me.

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2010 about the millennial generation, nearly 41 percent of all 18 to 29-year-olds are unemployed. And of those who are employed, about two-thirds, 68 percent, report they do not earn enough money to lead the kinds of lives they desire. More than a third, 36 percent, of all Millennials say they rely on financial assistance from their families to survive.

Millennials have time on their side. According to the survey, when the job market recovers, Millennials will be ready because they are on track to becoming the most educated generation in history. And while money and time can be inhibiting factors on the path to receiving a degree, the study shows that Millennials are ready to meet the challenge, reporting that nearly a quarter of Millennials work full or part-time while attending school.

So, we have the work ethic necessary to get the job, but is that all employers want? According to an Internships.com survey that polled more than 7,300 students and recent graduates as well as more than 300 human resources and recruitment professionals, 69 percent of companies with 100 employees or more offered full-time jobs to their interns in 2012. Internships, the survey reports, are “the new interview.”

This is why I am arguing every major on campus should require the completion of an internship.

Experiential learning experience is what employers are after, and it’s what we should be fighting for. Millennials face tougher economic challenges than previous generations, requiring them to be malleable in an uncertain job climate. So, if students have to change, universities should change with them, not work against them.

Employers want more, especially when they have so few jobs to offer and need distinguishing factors between applicants. We need to make ourselves as marketable as possible, and having internship experience is one way to do that.

Many students work full or part time in tandem with a full-course load or participate in numerous extra-curricular activities. These are all great resume builders, but it’s the directly-related experience employers look for that will move your resume to the top. Having the time to complete an internship, however, is another story. They are time-consuming and often times don’t pay, making it financially difficult to pursue. Universities should not only require internships of all majors, but they should offer scholarship programs to help supplement income for the many unpaid internships.

The relationship between a student and their university is a symbiotic one. They need us just as much as we need them. We are the make-up of the graduation rates they like to flaunt, but the end game for the students is not the diploma, it’s the job to which that diploma will lead.