Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Don’t miss out on internship opportunities


Real-world experience is vital for success after college. 

While having a college degree is undoubtedly an essential factor for future career opportunities, there is more that college students need to do to set themselves apart from other college graduates.

At a time in which more people are going to college and earning a degree, businesses look to other metrics beyond attainment of a traditional degree. Degree inflation, a process through which jobs that once did not require a degree now do, makes college degrees less influential in helping people obtain employment. 

Therefore, ways in which graduates can go above and beyond through experiential learning via internships can be crucial to success after college. 

Experience is often looked upon more favorably than simply having a degree. A Harvard Business School study from 2017 found that 37% of employers believe work experience to be the most valuable qualification when searching for a new employee. Alternatively, only 11% of employers said the same about a four-year college degree.

According to  Elsie Boskamp of, a website focused on career development, 70% of interns gain employment from the company they interned for. Thus, college graduates who pursue paid internships are far more likely to obtain a job offer after college than those who do not.

While paid interns may have better career outcomes than interns who aren’t, unpaid internships still provide pathways to further opportunities. Unpaid internships can lead students to future opportunities in paid internships as well as help them develop skills that can aid them in their future careers.

When a UA student is searching for an internship, it is essential to know the services offered to them at The University of Alabama and the tools that can give them an edge in the application process.

The first thing students should do when they decide an internship is a valuable opportunity is visit the Career Center, which offers many great tools, including artificial-intelligence and in-person resume assistance, access to professional attire that students can borrow, and mock interviews.

Beth Williams, a manager at the Career Center, said students “don’t have to figure it all out on their own,” adding that she encourages students to “come as you are, wherever you are in the process.”

Through Handshake, The University of Alabama’s online recruiting system, students can find opportunities they may not have known existed for internships, jobs and more. Handshake is a valuable tool to make locating opportunities easier.

Once a student finds an opportunity that suits them, applies, and is accepted, the process of understanding the logistics behind an internship can finally begin. “Logistics are often just as intimidating as the job itself,” said Pamela Derrick, the director of experiential learning at the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Especially if an internship is unpaid, affording housing, clothes and transportation can be difficult for college students. To aid in this, UA offers an “Unpaid Internship Stipend” that awards students anywhere from $500-$1,000 to assist with internship costs.

While students often pursue internships during the summer break, internships are not only summer gigs. Derrick said that there are often many internships during the regular school year that students do not take advantage of, and taking a semester off can sometimes be worthwhile in pursuing a valuable internship opportunity during the spring or fall school semester.

However, if a student takes a semester off to pursue an internship, they should first consult their adviser about saving their spot at the University for future semesters and reflect on how this may impact scholarships or their degree progress.

Simply put, the experience of an internship provides students with the skills and connections that are vital for success in the real world and are a great supplement to a college education.

As Williams said, “Experiential learning, including internships, can be such an important way to build your resume, gain meaningful experience, and build your professional network.”

Every student should examine the possible internships available to them and take advantage of the resources at The University of Alabama to help them procure and execute these beneficial opportunities. If anything, talk to the Career Center about where to start.

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