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Linking generations. Enhancing lives.

Many students look forward to graduating from college and getting a job in the career of their choice. Although that plan sets off right after graduation for some students, it may not necessarily be the case for others. The lack of experience by many students becomes a stumbling block in the pursuit of their dream job. Students usually dream of earning the big bucks and getting the enjoyment in their chosen fields when they graduate from colleges. More often than not, students who graduate from school with above average grade points and exceptional character are left disappointed when they lack the experience in acquiring positions advertised in job ads or find out that companies seek more than GPA’s. The advantage of getting an internship during your education and the roles it plays during job seeking, are valuable and aids students in their preparedness and quest to begin the path to their future career.

Aside to getting the necessary experience and hands-on training and knowledge during internships, students network and sell themselves to these companies and organizations. They are also able to judge the organization’s character, their high points and low points and how well they adapt to situations that occur during this life event. Students during an internship will be able to tell if they made the right choice with their chosen career path. They see the work of other staff members and pick up positive characteristics that influence how they work. They are also see characteristics of themselves and other staff that they can shed-off from their work culture if they realize those characters impairs team efforts negatively.

A National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) students’ survey report indicated that most students who get paid during internship usually get a job offer from the organization after they graduate. Although this sounds like a great incentive for students to seek paid internships, there are equally beneficial factors in considering unpaid internships. In a paid internship, students usually work more hours per week, which can cause challenges for studying if it’s within the semester. On the other hand with an unpaid internship, students are often given much more flexibility with work schedule and hours worked per week. This means that students perhaps can hold more than one job increasing both experience and knowledge. Any internship potentially offers the benefit of learning and training with organization but a student needs to consider both sides of the coin.

Internships offer on-the-job training that the classroom cannot provide. Through my work at the LifeSpan Center, as a human services (Social Services Administration) intern from the University of Illinois at Springfield, I have gained knowledge of how social services organizations operate. I now understand how an organization’s mission must align with the needs of the community and what that entails in the human services sector. I have seen firsthand how staff, supervisors and the director at the Lifespan Center care about the needs of their clients and how they work professionally and collectively to serve the community. My involvement and participation in planning and evaluating of new and existing programs, setting up rental rooms, fund-raising events, customer care, proposal writing and other various tasks have all been training that my supervisor and other staff members have arranged to make my internship a great learning experience.

Students should always remember to approach an internship with a spirit of genuine eagerness to learn, this attitude will certainly open doors and help them make the right choice for their future chosen career.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.”

Peace Meals, sponsored by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, call 217-345-1800.

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