The importance of internships during college

To those who pursue them, internships can provide critical skills and valuable career preparation
Michelle Tran portrait photo
Michelle, '22, discusses how internships are important for Loyola students to help round out their skills and prepare them for a successful career.

Why are internships so important to Loyola students? We want to translate what we’re learning in the classroom to real-world applications on the job—and grow from the day-to-day experiences in our roles.

That’s why 80% of Loyola students participate in an internship, field experience, or practicum before they graduate.

As a writing major who has four internships under her belt, I have found that internships, field experience, and practicums are some of the most valuable opportunities a student can undertake. The resources and support Loyola offers students before they graduate prepares them to tackle the challenges in their career and make them stronger candidates in the workforce.

With these opportunities, Loyola students graduate more than ready. We’re Loyola Ready.

Finding a college internship

One of the biggest unknowns when it comes to internships is finding one in the first place and identifying which type of internship will work best for a student’s goals.

Thanks to the many resources Loyola offers to its students, we receive support in every step of the process—from the initial search and networking to preparing for the interview and even landing the role.

Loyola offers endless resources and opportunities for students to take advantage of internships, field experiences, and practicums. I’m confident that my internship experience will help me stand out in an applicant pool as someone who has applied my education in a real-world context and transformed my knowledge into measurable results for a company.

During my time at Loyola, I’ve identified internship positions on campus—and during the pandemic, I landed remote internships, which allowed me to continue to gain experience and build my résumé.

Finding internships through campus involvement

The first college internship I had is a role I’m still involved with today. I work as a paid intern with Loyola’s office of undergraduate admission. I joined the Greyhound Ambassadors when I attended a student activities fair during my first year, and I signed on to be a tour guide. After my first year, I was promoted to an intern after showing consistent dedication to the role.

The Greyhound Ambassadors posing for a group photo

Now I lead tours, engage with prospective students, and help with day-to-day tasks to support the admission staff on campus.

I’ve worked with admission for three years—including remotely this semester—because I love connecting with potential Greyhounds. It brings me joy to share my Loyola experience and hope that I can make the Evergreen campus a home for others.

This internship has helped me develop several key skills that will be useful in any number of future endeavors. I used to be a relatively shy student who didn’t participate much in class unless called upon; however, I found that speaking weekly in front of 10-20 strangers as a campus tour guide has made me more confident and a strong public speaker. As a tour guide, we’re trained on talking points, but there are always questions that prompt me to think on my feet and be comfortable answering questions off-script.

Another skill that this internship has taught me is teamwork. We host multiple Open House events each year, and each event typically draws more than 1,000 individuals. These events require collaboration to be successful, and I’ve learned to work with so many different people including our admission counselors, other interns, and various staff on campus. I also take on different roles during Open House events, requiring me to be flexible and juggle multiple responsibilities. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., I might be directing parking, checking in visitors, leading tours, assisting alumni speakers, or even just bringing lunch to the parking attendant. I am always adapting in this role, and I think the ability to adapt to any situation is valuable regardless of which job or field I land in after graduation.

Finding internships through networking

It can be difficult to put yourself out there, but networking is an invaluable experience that will benefit you in the long term. Making connections is everything. You want to enjoy your internship, and networking helps you find a good fit!

Students networking at one of Loyola's career fairs

The second key to networking is to keep making connections even after you land a position. You should connect with coworkers, family friends, and neighbors, and attend any events being held to meet others in your industry. You never know who a useful connection will be down the road—or who their networks may include who could be a mentor, connector, or future employer for you. Networks are exponential in their potential.

Being open to networking and building relationships is often the door to internship opportunities. I interned as a social media marketing intern for Ryfe Bar, Restaurant, Events in Atlantic City, N.J. I was introduced to the owner, John Murphy, through a family friend. Mr. Murphy was looking for someone to manage the social media accounts for his new restaurant. In this role, I leaned on knowledge from a graphics class I took at Loyola and my writing skills to produce social media content. This was a paid summer internship and I learned invaluable industry knowledge from Mr. Murphy, a former vice president of marketing with Oracle and an expert in his field. I came away from this internship with a portfolio of digital graphic and print collateral, including menus I designed that are still used in the restaurant.

Without the relationship I built with Allen Brizee, Ph.D., my writing professor and academic advisor, I never would be in my current role as a writing intern (for which I write pieces like this one!). Through attending office hours, being engaged with my writing classes, and demonstrating my writing capabilities, Dr. Brizee saw me as a strong candidate who would excel in this specific role—and he referred me for the position.

Finding internships through the Career Center

The Rizzo Career Center is another resource for students to utilize—at any stage of the process. I had a momentary crisis after declaring my writing major my sophomore year, because I was lost when it came to what I wanted to do with my major. The career services staff at Loyola have helped me find potential career paths and discover roles I didn’t even know existed. Once I started applying to internships, the Career Center staff helped me build my résumé and cover letters. Even after you graduate, the Rizzo Career Center supports alumni in finding and landing professional opportunities.

A student walking through the doors of the Career Center on Loyola's Evergreen Campus

Currently, I work for the Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation (EP-ACT) as a communications intern. I applied for this position through Handshake, a platform for job and internship postings offered through a partnership with Loyola’s Career Center. This role is like my previous internship with Ryfe, as I manage their social media and design graphic content. This is also a paid position, which is a great way to earn money working remotely during the pandemic.

Gaining experience managing a social media account and creating digital content are key skills that will help me enter the field of digital content marketing after graduation. This internship has also helped me with organizational skills that are essential to any job (and particularly digital marketing, because of the deadline-oriented nature of campaigns). I’ve learned how to prioritize content for approval by my supervisors and how to schedule content to meet deadlines.

Finding internships for academic credit

Concurrently with my position as a communications intern for EP-ACT, I am a writing intern for Loyola’s office of marketing and communications. This internship is actually a course I am taking for academic credit, which counts toward my writing major. I’m writing web content and learning about the tactics of content strategy, like storytelling to support a brand and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The position has helped me establish benchmarks for my writing and forced me to create a schedule to complete assignments each week.

My supervisor, Brigid Hamilton, is a 2006 graduate of Loyola who has been great to work with because she is familiar with Loyola’s mission and can guide my writing. It’s also valuable for students to see the career paths alumni take after graduation, and what kinds of work they are doing with their majors, as a way to consider different options for my own future.

How internships expand your perspective

In every position, I see what I’ve learned in the classroom being applied in a real-world context. Being able to adapt what I’ve learned in my classes to a real-world context only furthers my understanding of these concepts and challenges me to translate theories into realities.

A student holding print collateral from one of Loyola's career fairs

Of all the things I’ve learned through my internships, accountability and time management rise to the top—because they’re different in the context of an internship versus my college classes and academic experience. As an intern, the work you are producing furthers an organization’s goals or business needs. Missing a deadline or creating less-than-quality work has a much different outcome than in the context of a college class, where the outcome is that I receive a low grade.

Balancing six classes, two internships, and having a life outside of school and work can be challenging. However, by creating daily and weekly schedules along with purposefully making time for myself, I can make my life manageable. I’m certain that these time management skills will only increase my productivity and create a happier, well-balanced life for me in the future.

Through these internships, I’ve gained insight into potential future careers that aren’t strictly based in writing. While people might think writing majors go on to write their own novels or become journalists, my internships have opened my eyes to the possibility of combining my writing experience with my passion for digital content creation. These internships—along with Loyola’s Jesuit liberal arts education—have also allowed me to explore areas of interest outside of my major. I think that applying to digital marketing positions with a well-rounded background outside of marketing, combining my writing skills and related internship experience, makes me a stronger candidate for these positions in the future.