Narrowing down a potential career path can be overwhelming and daunting. Pondering career choices can be especially difficult for first-generation college students, who are also most often first-generation professionals whose familial and community linkages offer a narrower set of career options. As first-gen students have a different starting point when it comes to their careers, it’s essential to help them seek out opportunities and build paths that offer insight into life-advancing career options. Internships are a great way to learn about an industry, learn the everyday work, understand a company’s culture, forge important relationships, and prepare for future applications.
Internships are a remarkable resource to guide students toward their ambitions while securing experience in a specific field. But, they are first and foremost an insider look at a career field to help students determine if they have interest in this career path and should continue to pursue it. That has ramifications on their college majors, courses of study, and even their extracurricular college activities (such as clubs and organizations based on career fields, or belonging in professional groups). Having solid experience in a career field through an internship can help students stay on track with their graduation goals by solidifying intent around their area of study and/or their majors, as continually changing majors can delay or derail graduation.
It is also an integral gateway toward overcoming a major barrier for first-generation students in pursuing their career aspirations. Internships not only help students build a personal network, they also help students understand, and practice cultural and professional norms that exist in these professional settings. In most cases, students may not have had previous opportunity for exposure to these types of expectations and rules of engagement prior to taking on an internship.
Nowadays, we can’t rely solely on our degrees to guarantee an entry point into a thriving career in a career field of our choice. Proven prior experience is often a deciding factor during the interviewing process in this ever changing job market. Thus, we must prepare our students as much as possible. Having internship experience is one critical element of a robust career readiness program. As we continue to deepen all the ways we serve students as they pursue life advancement, we encourage them to use all the tools that Fulfillment Fund provides to help them be ready and competitive in the world of work.
If your company is looking to hire a diverse, capable college student for a paid internship experience, please let us know. Feel free to get in touch with Rachel Livingston, Vice President of Programs (email@example.com).