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Internships provide students valuable experience

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Southern Miss offers students seeking work experience assistance in obtaining internship opportunities.

Carlee Welch-Dick, a senior broadcast journalism major who has completed an internship with WDAM and has been interning at the University Communications Office for the past two years, said interning helped her to pin down the career field she wants to pursue.

“[An internship] helps with knowing your industry and what options are out there,” Welch-Dick said. “Why have just any parttime job when you can have a paid internship that bolsters your resume and shows employers you already have hands-on experience?”

“Internships are a wonderful dress rehearsal for going out there and finding a job,” Assistant Director and Internship Coordinator for the School of Mass Communication and Journalism Cindy Blackwell said. “I have a lot of students ask if I can assign them an internship. I can’t do that. I can’t assign them a job. [Internships] are the opportunity to put themselves out there”

Welch-Dick said interning was extremely worth pursuing because it helped her build professional connections she would not otherwise have been able to obtain. It also taught her the differences between collegiate and professional environments.

“[Students] take for granted the way they communicate with professors and, for the most part, do things on their own time,” Welch-Dick said. “In the professional world, there is a different standard of communication. You must follow up on every email and be extremely deadline-aware.”

“We like to help students find, fund and give recognition for internships,” Lisa Stevens, the director of the Center for Pathway Experiences, a center that serves to help students in locating internships said.

“There is always time [to set up an internship],” Stevens said. “We encourage students to ask even if a company does not list an internship on their website. Many companies don’t have a structured program but would like to hire someone. All it takes is asking.”

Stevens said students looking for internships should be confident in their resumes and portfolios. The center holds résumé critiques and one-on-one meetings to ensure they have their best qualities and skills listed.

“A lot of times, students have a lot great things about themselves they are not putting on their résumés, and having that one-on-one conversation helps bring a lot of that stuff out,” Stevens said.

Senior international business major Mary Kate Lott said her internship at Sanderson Farm was great because the internship showed her what working in her field is like.

“[Working with a cooperation] was completely different from the classroom,” Lott said. “Learning how the professional world really works was such a great preparation.”

“I truly believe that an internship properly prepares you for the real world and helps you to determine what exactly you want your career to be.” Lott said.

Stevens said many departments do not have a director for internships, but the center aids students in finding opportunities to further their career goals. The School of Mass Communications and Journalism is one department, though, with a director and program.

Blackwell said her department has a formal internship program because they want students to get the most out of their internships.

Blackwell said that students and the companies have a clearer understanding of what each other wants out of the experience when the department has paperwork that states what is expected of the students.

“One of the most important things you can find out about an internship is if a job or career is not what you thought it was,” Blackwell said.

“[Students at Southern Miss] are never going to be in a place with more support,” Blackwell said. “There are so many services on campus that are incredible for any major.”

Blackwell said when students ask her where to start, she presents them with a plethora of options at their disposal such as Career Services, Center for Pathway Experiences and, if they are mass communication and journalism majors, her internship sessions.

For those who are looking to start an internship this summer, but have not found an employer, Stevens believes there is still time, though students’ options will be limited