Internships benefit students beyond the workplace

Opportunities range all post-secondary outcomes

Photo+illustration+by+Colin+Canaday.+Senior+Tenzin+Gyaldatsang+browses+internship+opportunities.+Internships+provide+opportunities+for+students+to+build+their+resume%2C+build+real-world+skills+and+get+work+experience.

Colin Canaday

Photo illustration by Colin Canaday. Senior Tenzin Gyaldatsang browses internship opportunities. Internships provide opportunities for students to build their resume, build real-world skills and get work experience.

By Colin Canaday, St. Louis Park High School

According to a survey done by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2019, internships had a 70.4% placement rate in a career after completion of the internship. With much more focus on the youth entering the workforce, students and staff at Park recognize the benefits of these opportunities.

According to junior Fiona Long, she was able to participate in a summer internship through the city of St. Louis Park, which she found with the resources provided by the school.

“It was an internship that I found through school. It was through the St. Louis Park Chamber of Commerce who has a website called ‘Elevate Features’ which connects students with internships and jobs,” Long said. “ I provided feedback for them and thought of ways that they could improve their website, and then sent out surveys and did market research.”

Career and College Coordinator Kara Mueller said these types of opportunities span to multiple post-secondary outcomes. Additionally, according to Mueller, internships and jobs allow students to find what they like, as well as what they dislike, while still in high school — building skills and adding to their resumes in the process.

“Any plans for after high school could be anything from going to a four year college to an apprenticeship program to a technical college. It could be any wide range. By participating in internships, or apprenticeships, the students are being able to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in school, or pick up new knowledge in a worksite,” Mueller said. “Students get credit for that: they get experience, they get resume builders. It’s just a smart way to test out careers.”

According to Mandy Janssen, a Solutions Development Manager at GPS Education Partners, a large provider of internship and job opportunities for students, while there is a lot of public perception and fixation on a four-year plan, many opportunities tailor to technical or labor-focused jobs as well.

“In education, we’re still operating under the assumption that the four year degree is a pathway to success, when in reality, our regional data from Minnesota (dictates that we) need something different,” Janssen said. “Students are not all headed for a four year degree, and so having this type of access to workforce experience, and giving students more expertise to enter prior to entering the labor market, is really huge.”

Through an internship, Long said she developed time management skills, as well as social skills through working with more senior employees.

“It was really nice learning how to work in a job that’s not just a basic cashiering or waitressing job, and something that was more in a professional setting,” Long said. “I was working with one of the adults at the company pretty often and learning how to time manage and what to do for that.”

According to Janssen, these are not the only skills that can be refined through work experiences. Many opportunities, Janssen said, offer the ability to learn skills that will apply regardless of future goals or ambitions.

“Students exit this program with professional and technical skills. Those professional skills that they’re learning are highly transferable skills of showing up on time, working with a team, meeting deadlines. All of those skills are transferable regardless of what job you go to,” Janssen said. “When students can work on both those professional and technical skills in a real environment, or real working environment, that’s a really valuable piece.”

Mueller said another key aspect of sharing these opportunities with students is to help fight gender imbalance in certain fields such as engineering or healthcare.

“I would love to encourage those who identify as males to participate in opportunities within healthcare fields. And I’d love to be able to push those who identify as females into our technical, engineering, manufacturing jobs,” Mueller said. “I don’t want it to be stereotyped — ‘this job is only for women’ or ‘this job is only for men.’ I would like everybody to participate and step outside their comfort a little bit.”

According to Long, working in a job or an internship is a rewarding experience she would recommend to others.

“If you can find one that interests you, and it’s something that you’re looking for, it’s a great opportunity,” Long said.

This story was originally published on The Echo on April 27, 2022.