Your Turn to Intern: HCC Offers Next Steps for Students

Posted on 02 May 2016 by

Housatonic offers a range of internships for students who want to take that next step in their academic career and beyond. Training from your peers and working assistant jobs tying back to your major are just some the benefits HCC has to offer.

Do not let the glamour of Hollywood portrayals like Robert DeNiro’s new movie “Intern” fool you.  Internships are not often glamourous, and at times are often not convenient.

You won’t be getting paid either for these internships. But they are, indeed, necessary if you intend on building a strong professional resume that can lead to a career.

Take HCC student Stephanie Lemieux, for example,she is now working as a legislative intern. Her tasks change daily, organizing e-mails one day, then writing testimony for her legislator the next.

Lemieux talked about the rewards of doing work in this field. “I’d say the overall best part of the experience is getting to watch matters that can affect our whole state happen as they unfold,” she said.

One of the other benefits of interning is a student gains the hands on experience in the field they are looking into as a possible career path. The University of Arizona’s Career Services Center stresses the importance of researching the career you might want to pursue.

By CookiesBrownie (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cookies Brownie (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

In a recent article, the center mentioned  the benefits and advantages of pursuing an internship and other related experiences: “Exploring is a very important part of the academic process, and gaining a work experience is a great way for students to acquaint themselves with a field they are looking to learn about.”

Housatonic also has a new career services center, a place where students can get more information on taking the next steps in their academic career.

Phil Dante, Career Development Coordinator in HCC’s Office of Career Services, Internships, and Experiential Learning Career, offered some insights into what the program has to offer. “ The office does mock interviews, preparing for internships, which could, in turn, lead to you getting that internship help you’ll need to get experience for your resume. We want to make professors and students aware of opportunities. Internships, paid or not, are valuable,” Dante said.

“Internships, paid or not, are valuable. Students learn more of the skills pertaining to your field of work,”he said. Dante also mentioned the fact that they will have an orientation, so you won’t be going in blind.

He brought up a former HCC student who interned at the People’s United Bank here in downtown Bridgeport. He worked there for 4 months, getting 20 hours a week. Not only was he hired 2 month later, but the company is also paying for his 4 year degree. Dante was quick to note that this may not be the outcome for every intern, but it is certainly a possibility.

Anisha Thomas, also a career services coordinator here at HCC, offered some tips when it comes to preparing to handing in that resume and all the steps you need to take beforehand.

“If you are looking for an internship, start at least 2 years before you intend to start [the internship]. This way, you will have time to start lengthy online applications, essays, gather transcripts, and recommendation letters at least 2 months before the deadline date. This gives your application a first look by reviewers for the prime internship placements,” she said.

HCC hosted its first IT Career Fair on May 2 and will host a Career Day in the fall as well.

Don’t be afraid to look into internships that are from outside the walls of HCC. For example, Dante was eager to state that Yale has a summer IT internship open to students from other colleges, adding that two HCC students have interviews there soon. He also points out that students should look into the idea of some internships that could offer credits for school. These internships are based on the criteria and the faculty involved.

For those who are looking for another door in terms of furthering your academic career, see a trusted professor, or even an advisor, in the field you are looking into.

“For example, a student who is interested in working in the mental health field may speak to a psychology or human services professor and see if they know of any opportunities, and how they can apply,” Lemieux says.

If it all seems nerve-wracking or scary, the payout will be well worth it in the long run, and your wallet and resume will thank you for it.

“The internship shaped my path at HCC because I feel like it helps me stand out from other community college students.  We’re in the early stages of our college careers, and a lot of people don’t think about internships until junior or senior year, but I think the more experience you can get, the better,” Lemieux said.

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