What makes an internship so valuable? The attached link paints a strong picture about the value of professional practice by college students. It matches much of what the Field Experiences program in the School of Communication at Illinois State University values for its students.
The Field Experiences program is founded on the fact that internships are academic experiences designed to enhance students' skills, professionalism and networking. The program and its leaders take no position on compensation for interns and believe compensation is not a factor in the value of an internship experience.
Before accepting internships, students should judge opportunities on the value of what they can learn and experience, as well as what they can contribute to the organization's success. While we respect what this excellent piece has to say about most subjects, our own experience with School of Communication interns demonstrates that interns who feel they are making a contribution to the success of their organization have the best experience. Long term, that's what they remember and appreciate. So, contributing to organizational success is important to how the students view their own confidence, growth and experience … it has nothing to do with compensation.
This article expands on this concept: A Definition and Criteria to Assess Opportunities.
PR student details importance of internships; The second day of my internship with Illinois State University's Media Relations was a big surprise. I came into the office and was there just long enough to turn on my computer and check my e-mail. Soon after, I was on my way to the College of Business where Media Relations was participating in a simulation crisis. Read more about this experience here »
More than coffee runs: They appreciate me. They respect me. I am NOT just the intern. Where I work, I am treated like a colleague. When my supervisor is with a client or taking a break, he trusts me to keep things running smoothly. People come to me for advice. It is a great feeling to have professionals who have years of experience come to me (the intern) for help and advice. My supervisor goes out of his way to ensure that I am equipped with the necessary skills to launch my career. He has taught me to have my priorities in order. I am grateful for the knowledge and experience I have acquired. I am NOT just the intern.
Education meets experience: Nothing against my other classes, but this class/internship has not only taught me more than any other class, it also has helped me understand what my previous classes were trying to teach me. For me, my internship has been the best way to learn. The work motivates me because I know it means something to the people I work with. In my future classes, I will look at what I am trying to learn from the perspective I have developed as an intern.
Keeping you prepared: When meeting with my supervisor, I was given the following responsibilities: revise the spring newsletter, write press releases when designated and write news highlights for the website as well as update existing web pages. I was shocked that a successful organization was putting such a serious workload in the hands of a first-time intern. When I began working on my assignments, my mind became flooded with the material from the communication courses I’ve taken at Illinois State.
Application in the real world: If I needed to know newsletter format, I thought of material covered in COM 268. If I needed to remember what visuals people wanted to see on a website, I thought of COM 366. I even brought my “bible” (the AP stylebook) from COM 161 to work with me, so I could look up technicalities when writing. Every day, I am doing what I learned in a COM class. Internships are not one-sided. They involve collaboration, mutual respect, and employers are just as impressed with our interns and internship program as we are with them! Below is only a sample of comments applauding the program and our professional interns!