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Internships critical for students


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Published 2011-05-17T18:06:00Z”/>

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Orion Staff

Fetching coffee, making copies and basically being the office mule are some of the negative connotations synonymous with internships. However, there are also the success stories of internships where students work under experts in the field they wish to start their careers in.

Whether or not they turn out to be the stereotype, internships are a part of the difficult path that makes students stand out and get picked up by employers.

Professors encourage students to attempt different internships in their area of study to see if it’s worth continuing, sophomore business major Joe Grabenstein said.

“I haven’t tried an internship yet, but it’s something teachers want us to do to differentiate ourselves from others and to see what areas we like,” he said.

Even though many students may have an idea of what they want to do as a career, internships can shed light on what different fields are truly like and help make important decisions in choosing a career path.

Quality of internships can also vary depending on the employer and some can prove to be not all that helpful, said Kathleen Tam, junior international relations major.

“I fully immersed myself in my internship and it definitely opened my eyes, but some that don’t pay can be a waste of time where students can be doing something better and making money,” Tam said.

In many internships, students have to stop and ask for guidance, which takes up their time and their employer’s time, she said.

“There’s a point when you need to stop learning and start doing,” Tam said.

California internship pay laws enforced by the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement have been updated in the past year to categorize what type of work is acceptable to be paid or unpaid. The new revisions are giving slightly more leeway to employers for not paying interns.

According to the law, if the work is beneficial to the employer or displaces a regular employee, it must be paid, according to The New York Times. However, if the work is beneficial primarily to the intern and resembles an educational institution, the employer receives no immediate benefit and does not have to pay.

Regardless of whether or not a student enjoys their internships, students always get some value out of them to help in the future, said Megan Odom, associate director of the the Career Planning and Placement Office.

“Participating in different internships helps narrow down a students career choices and I’ve rarely heard of a student who didn’t get something out of their internship,” she said.

Even if the internship isn’t along the student’s career path, it can really help him or her make the right connections, Odom said.

As for the odds for internships the university can help to find, 70 percent of internships that Chico State advertises are paid and companies are usually pretty receptive to making paid positions, she said.

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