Students seek opportunities in internships

By Courtney Klemm

Like many students, Jake Abry, a junior in LAS, spent much of his free time in the winter months searching for an internship in his field of study. Finally, after a flood of rejection letters, Abry received interest from the Cincinnati Reds major league baseball team.

“I didn’t want to go home and do the summer job thing,” he said. “I wanted to get out and try something really random. It’s a chance for me to try something random because I don’t have to commit to it for more than three months.”

Abry will be working in the baseball operations department, where he will help with the free agent draft, chart games for scouting reports and enter statistical inputs into the computer during the actual games.

“I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I called every major league team,” he said. “It’s always been my thing. I’ve read a lot of books on statistical analysis in baseball.”

Kaletra Dispennett, assistant director of the Career Center, said that internships are very important for students in a variety of fields to have.

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“We want students to get as much experience as possible, especially if they’re not sure what exactly they want to do,” she said.

Dispennett said internships are usually competitive because the experience leads to advantages in the job market after graduation.

“You are able to build on skills that aren’t as strong or showcase your strong skills,” she said. “Also, I’ve talked to a lot of employers who are hiring individuals that have done an internship with them. They’ve already seen what (the intern) can do and what they’re strong points are. It’s a working interview in itself.”

Dispennett also said that students can decrease the competition by looking for qualified work experience that isn’t labeled an internship. Some of the ways students can go about finding an internship or job are to talk to people already in the field or research internships at the Career Center, Dispennett said.

“Students should start with people they already know in their field and talk to them about possibilities in places they work,” she said. “Look at internships offered in the past. The Career Center has books and directories of past internships. Also the Career Placement Center in the different colleges gives internship listings all the time.”

Jamie Lee Shaffer, junior in Communications, spent last summer doing an internship for a television station in Springfield and will complete another one this summer.

“The experience is crazy because you have the classes and they are so boring, but then you get to go and see what it’s really like,” Shaffer said. “It reminds you why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

Shaffer was recently offered a non-paid internship at MSNBC in New York. She said non-paid internships are a drawback in the broadcast field.

“It’s nine weeks long and I’m going to look for another job, but my parents have been nothing but supportive,” she said. “I think they’ve accepted the fact that it’s going to be a few years before I can support myself.”

With nonpaying internships, some colleges offer scholarships to help with the expense or class credit. Dispennett said finding a part-time job is also an option.

Abry said he feels internships benefit a student more than just getting experience in that field.

“The most important things are not just doing it but leading up to it, too. Getting (the internships), searching for them, and getting apartments help you learn how to be resourceful,” Abry said. “Those are skills you need wherever you go, not just in your field.”