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Use interns, don’t abuse them

There is no question that internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of an admired company or gain experience in your desired field. College students, especially soon-to-be graduating seniors, are always looking for the perfect internship. Searching and applying for an internship can be laborious and difficult, but once a student lands an internship, they hope to learn as much as they can.

Many internships are unpaid and so the intern’s reward is job training and course credit. College students usually do not mind working for free because they know they will be doing work they enjoy, learning how the company runs and networking with professionals.

An article in SFGate.com states “A national 2006 study showed that 84 percent of college students at four-year institutions had completed at least one internship before graduation.”

However, this tough economy is also causing many companies to abuse internship programs. Some are taking advantage of their interns – forcing them to work long hours without pay or complete menial tasks that do not educate in the job.

Interns should not be doing only menial tasks such as making coffee or filing papers. They should be exposed to various aspects of the company, be able to assist on projects and lend their own knowledge, creativity and other skills, so that they can learn and grow professionally.

After massive layoffs, companies have now shifted the unwanted work to interns, allowing many companies to profit off of free labor. However, college interns should make good judgement of what is a beneficial internship and what is taking advantage.

In an interview with a future company, an intern should not only answer questions, but also ask questions regarding what their duties will be as an intern at that specific company and how this internship will benefit them.

If the internship duties include actual hands-on work in their particular field where they will be able to apply what they learned in college, then that is a great internship.

And once a college student has landed an internship and is on duty, they should pitch specific duties or ideas they feel will allow them to learn and grow. If not, their boss or mentor may never know what the intern wants to learn or do, or what the intern is capable of, which could eventually lead to employment.

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