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Internships help students explore prospective careers while earning college credits
May 31, 2013
Professional experiences can begin for Community College of Rhode Island students even before they finish college. CCRI interns can be found working throughout Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts, earning college credits, getting real-world business experience and gaining professional contacts. Sometimes students even earn a salary.
The CCRI Career and Internship Program provides students with 12 to 15 hours of work per week in a semester-long, four-credit internship. Interested students usually are matched with an employer but they can also design their own internship with the help of the college.
The real-world experience that students gain at an internship can be a critical part of their college experience, said Career and Internship Office Director Anne Marie Marge. It gives students a chance to try out a potential career before committing to it.
“It’s really important that students test out a career that they’re thinking about to make sure the field is something they enjoy,” she said. “You don’t want to get a four-year degree and then find out that, in reality, that field is different from what you expected.”
Marge added that getting this career exposure is important for students who want to transfer to a four-year college or university because their career interests can affect their choice of school.
Besides career experience, there are a lot of positive benefits involved with completing an internship, from résumé-building experience to networking opportunities to an opportunity to gain confidence in a work environment.
Carissa Mancini, who interned at WPRI TV last summer, said an internship is a great way to explore a potential career path.
“You get to see how the everyday work is,” she said, “You see what actually goes on. You pretty much know right off the bat if you’re going to like it or not.”
Mancini is interested in television broadcasting and wants to write for TV programs. During her internship, she was able to job shadow several employees and see what their workdays are like. She also helped edit materials before they aired. She said it was a positive experience.
Jessica Burrows interned last year with the Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Disabilities. She graduated from CCRI and now attends Rhode Island College as a special education major.
Burrows said her internship gave her a lot of hands-on experience in her field. As a legislative fellow, she kept track of bills that affected people with disabilities and attended meetings of the Rhode Island General Assembly.
She testified to the House Corporations Committee against a bill that her organization thought would be detrimental to people with disabilities.
“I met the sponsor of the bill, who told me I did a good job in speaking against it,” Burrows said. “If you’re opposing a bill and you can get the sponsor to say ‘good job,’ you must have done well.”
CCRI internships include an online Cooperative Work Experience Seminar course on Blackboard that helps students with résumé and other job skills. Students reflect on their work experiences in writing.
Burrows said she found this online component helpful and nonintrusive.
“It really makes you think about your internship: how it can help you, what you are bringing to the table and how can you connect with the world around you,” she said.
She added, “By doing a coop class and an internship, you get a real feel for what it’s like to work in an office environment.”
Burrows said that the best thing she got out of her internship experience was a wealth of professional connections that may be helpful in a future job search.
To qualify for an internship, students are encouraged to have completed 24 credits within their major. They can have 12 credits if they are undecided.
The internship application process is similar to any other job, with a screening and an interview. You can set up an appointment by calling Anne Marie Marge at 401-825-2322, going online or visiting the Career and Internship offices at the Knight and Flanagan campuses.