Students discuss internship experience, advantages

Category:  News
Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 5:46 PM

Cinematically, an “intern” is portrayed as merely a whipping boy of an employer, only there to run errands and go on coffee runs for the elite bosses. However, this stereotype, according to Edinboro University Director of Career Development Monica Clem, is far from true. 

“The idea behind an internship is that you’re getting some professional experience,” she said.

Clem continued: “Doing an internship was (in the past) one of those value-added things where it was nice if you had one, but it wasn’t a make or break if you didn’t. It’s no longer perceived as optional. For most employers, if they don’t see some kind of hands-on learning on your resume...then you really are seen as not being nearly as competitive.” 

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 71 percent of graduates surveyed indicated they participated in an internship or job opportunity as undergraduates and are now working for full-time employers, compared to 56 percent who did not participate in an internship or job opportunity in the same time frame. 

Similarly, a 2015 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey of Endicott College — where students are required to take three “credit-bearing internships over the course of four years” — found that 98 percent of the 555 graduates in the class of 2015 were “employed full or part time, self-employed, enrolled in graduate programs, or enlisted in the military.” 

Fifty-three percent of the class reported that they attained their positions “directly from their internships or internship contacts.”

Senior psychology major Lisa Montanez is currently interning at Hospice of Metropolitan Erie and already has received a job offer from the company. 

“I’ve learned that hospice care matters and is important for patients who are letting their terminal illness run its course,” she said. “Hospice care provides hope for the families so that their loved ones aren’t dying in vein or alone, but surrounded with a caring, devoted team willing to be there with their services and hearts opened.”

She said the advantages of her internship are getting experience and having a hands-on perspective, which is “better than taking four classes.” Montanez said about the disadvantages: “450 hours is a lot but necessary. Unfortunately, I wish it was paid because I spend most of my time [there]. I’m there from open to close, seven and a half hours.”

She said she never felt unprepared in her internship because of her intro to professional psychology course.

“I never felt unprepared, [I] just didn’t know how the agency ran things,” she said.

Clem noted some Edinboro programs have internships or field experience already worked into their curriculum, referencing education, counseling and nursing. 

“The humanities programs — those are the students that critically need some sort of experience, and an internship is a great way to do it,” she said. 

According to a NACE report from May 2017, employers are anticipating hiring 3.4 percent more interns than they did in 2016. The report also notes that the strongest hiring predictions for interns correlated with employers with more than 20,000 employees. 

Clem said the optimal time to do an internship is junior year, when the student has had a good mix of general education courses and major courses.

Madi Gilbert is a junior communication sciences and disorders major and is currently interning through the Walt Disney World Disney College Program in the merchandising department. While she was unable to gain college credit for the internship since it does not relate to her major, she said she does not regret it “in the slightest.”

Some advantages of the internship for her are getting in the parks for free and discounts, gaining connections, getting to work in other locations and getting to know people from all around the world. The disadvantages, Gilbert said, are working many hours.

“This program has definitely opened my eyes to what I want to do with my major,” she said.

Luke Scribner spent the summer at MoreFrames Animation in Erie assisting in various freelance projects for several clients.

“My duties included image editing and compositing, coloring, cleanup art and effects animation,” he said. “I definitely learned a lot about how the industry works. I also learned new ways to use certain software, as well as new methods to apply to drawing and animation.”

Scribner, a senior traditional animation major, did his internship for six credits and said the advantage of the internship was that he was able to add to his portfolio. A disadvantage was waiting “a while” until the projects were released to actually put them in.

“I went in well prepared by the classes I have taken in the animation department,” he said. “It was a great experience, and I strongly recommend internships to anyone considering them.”

Clem adds, “If you plan ahead and you get a full time paid internship that’s 40 hours a week for 15 weeks, you are going to get a much more robust experience, [and] you’re going to learn a lot more than if you do a one-credit internship for 40 hours (total).” 

She stated that in a survey conducted by Edinboro University in the spring, 20 percent of students surveyed participated in an internship (not including students who already have internships or field experience worked into their programs). 

“Over time, I would really like to see that go up,” Clem said. 

Tyler Wilhelm, senior journalism and public relations major, interned with Bensur Creative Marketing Group in Erie as a marketing and advertising intern. He completed market research on clients and competitors. He also designed digital advertisements and created weekly reports on how the advertisements were being received.

“I learned the ins and outs of how a marketing agency operated on a day to day basis,” he said. “I got to see how employees interacted with other employees, as well as clients they were creating advertisements for. It was nice being in the actual environment, because I could see first-hand how deadlines, time management and organization skills are very critical in the success of a small marketing agency.”

Wilhelm believes his public relations courses, especially his advertising class and communications research class, helped him prepare for his internship.

“I was able to put my time and effort into it (the internship) and receive knowledge that’ll help me once I enter the workforce that I wouldn’t have gotten if I would have been sitting in classes that weren’t geared towards my goals,” he said.

He continued: “I’m not saying you each will get a great experience because you may not, but an internship will help you in deciding if you wish to continue to pursue a career in that field or not. For me, my internship was an eye-opener that helped me answer the question, ‘is this really what I want?’”

Dakota Palmer can be reached at


Tags: internships

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