[Campus Commentary]Making the most of an internshipFor most college seniors, the two-month summer break is their final chance to add one more line to their resume.
Recently, the media reported that out of more than 1,000 applicants who applied for internships at a well-known insurance company, only 100 were selected. Also recently in the Korean financial daily, Maeil Business, there was a report of a survey conducted by Career, an employment portal for job seekers, showing that on average, 83 people applied for each internship at the top 20 corporations ― twice the competitive rate for a regular job at 113 major companies.
Internships have become one of the top priorities of college students, along with “must have” Toefl scores and a good GPA. However, after overcoming the tough competition to land an internship, some find the experience unprofitable and a waste of time.
For some, this is because they are simply trying to get into any company, without any particular aim or purpose. This may provide them with exposure to jobs in a new field, but in most cases, interns usually find the work not right for them. To avoid this, one should think carefully about the job field he or she would like to explore before applying somewhere.
Some end up being given unsatisfactory work as interns. Becoming an intern at a company gives college students the chance to be in an actual workplace. For companies, it provides a chance to spot qualified workers who prove themselves during internship. However, it is a common complaint that some companies use interns for simple chores such as photocopying or filing instead of giving them proper job training.
I was an intern at a publishing company recently. Most of the work I did were routine tasks, including photocopying, spotting misprints and going up and down stairs to deliver mail to different units. Although there was some other challenging work, most of my tasks were insignificant.
At first it was a bit disappointing, but as time passed, I came to realize that there were surprising things that I could learn from those insignificant tasks. Making photocopies of books and looking for misprints, I learned what kinds of books the company makes, and delivering messages to other units helped me figure out how the different work teams relate to run the company. Recently, a new intern joined the office to replace another intern whose contract had ended. However, she decided to quit after one day, saying the work she had to do was not exactly what she expected.
An internship is a golden chance to experience a real job environment and learn about the profession. They sometimes lead directly to a regular job in a company. But to make the best of it, one must keep in mind what kind of experience one wants to gain from this pre-career move and choosing the right program. Once in, an intern must remember his limits. The work may seem insignificant, and your boss might seem too busy to teach you anything. Most of the time it is up to you to learn and gain as much experience as possible.
Patience and a positive attitude are keys to successful internships that mean more than just another line on one’s resume.
*The writer is a former editor of The Argus newspaper at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
by Lee Hyae-myung