January 31, 2023

New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Dallas — these are big cities in which many students find themselves searching for a summer internship.

Summer internships are a common requirement for many college majors, but do these internships actually help students? Are they useful in preparing them for the post-graduation work force?

Most students take on internships to gain experience, build resumes or even just to experience work life outside their hometown.

Elizabeth Iserman, junior public health major at California Baptist University, interned this past summer for Samaritans Purse in Boone, N.C. She worked on projects involving disaster relief and humanitarian aid.

For Iserman, the process of landing her ideal internship was not an easy one. It required many levels of interviews and tough competition. Samaritan’s Purse hired only 70 interns out of 1,200 applicants.

Iserman said the experience was unmet by any other job she had held previously because of connections she made and the defining impact it had on her confidence in her future career goals.

“I want to have as much experience as I can before graduating, so that I get out of CBU with the greatest number of opportunities and open doors,” Iserman said.

Her advice for students questioning if an internship would be right for them is to simply make a move and try it.

“The worst that can happen is not getting the internship, and in that case apply again next year — the company will notice that,” Iserman said. “Once you get it, you might learn that it’s the perfect fit for you, or that it is exactly the opposite of what you were looking for. Be bold, network and do your best.”

Elise Winegarden, senior worship arts & ministries major, also held an internship over summer 2018, but her’s looked quite different from Iserman’s internship.

Winegarden served as a ministry intern at Houston’s First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Her internship consisted of scanning sheet music, recording vocal arrangements, conducting church choir, helping in food banks and VBS, and participating in missionary work in Costa Rica.

Like many internships, the experience was a requirement for Winegarden to graduate so it acted as a networking, experience-building opportunity, as well as a course fulfillment.

“This experience was so helpful,” Winegarden said. “I know more about what I want to do with my life and career.”

Winegarden said every college student should have an internship to solidify what he or she wants to do after graduation.

“It gives people a little taste of the ‘real world’ and what it will be like after college,” Winegarden said. “When it comes to finding a job, you need to know people and have connections in that field.”

Jonathan Pate, senior music education major, also served as a worship intern at Houston’s First Baptist Church.

He echoed Winegarden’s comments about the importance of an internship for future success, but also cautioned students about the practicality of an internship that requires major relocation or increased expenses.

“If the internship is out of state, is it worth leaving your family for a while? Is it worth working with difficult people? Is it worth the effort and pay?” Pate said. “If it is, then do it. You will learn so much.”

Dora Bolin, worship assistant and director of the interns at Houston’s First Baptist Church, explained that faculty’s motivation behind developing the internship program is to teach practical skills needed in music positions that you cannot learn in academia.

“If you’re planning to work for a church, you aren’t always taught about the day-to-day: working with people, pastors, lay leaders, building a program, recruiting volunteers, choosing music, etc.,” Bolin said. “That is much of what our intern program offers.”

Bolin explained that when looking for interns they search for people who are eager and ready to learn.

“When we review our applicants, we look at their involvement and experience in their local church (and) university programs, as well as watch videos of their leading worship,” Bolin said. “We look for people who have charisma and are wanting to learn more about how to be better leaders and how to develop their leadership skills.”

Houston’s First Baptist Church also tries to help its interns find jobs after graduation.

“When a position becomes available at a church, the church leaders will send out a notification to other churches for recommendations, and we have forwarded our interns as recommendations after they’ve graduated,” Bolin said.

Bolin explained that she looks at connections and initiative when hiring new employees.

“The connections you make within the network of whatever industry you’re in are irreplaceable,” Bolin said. “I interned the summers between my sophomore and junior year and again between my junior and senior year. I still know all of my bosses and keep in touch with them. If they didn’t have a position available for me, they connected me with someone who did.”

Summer internships can be a great stepping stone into the real world in any career field. While internships often do not pay as much as other summer jobs, the experience and connections are irreplaceable.

Iserman said she was initially connected with Samaritan’s Purse through an internship fair at CBU.

“A couple representatives of Samaritan’s Purse came to campus to set up a booth and hold an informational meeting, and I made sure to connect with them and introduce myself to them and ask good questions,” Iserman said.

Winegarden and Pate were connected with Houston’s First Baptist Church through their participation in CBU’s University Choir and Orchestra.

If students do not know where to start in searching for their next internship, they should begin with the professors and other resources within their major. These faculty and staff members can often connect students directly with contacts in the field.

Bolin encouraged students hoping for jobs after they graduate to seek out internships because they show commitment.

“You can have the education but if you don’t have the experience, I’m less inclined to hire you because I don’t see you as having initiative,” Bolin said. “Take initiative.”

CBU also offers a number of resources through the Career Center, such as job fairs where potential employers come to campus and Job Forward Fridays, where the Career Center posts job openings on its social media accounts. To get more information on the Career Center’s offerings, email careercenter@calbaptist.edu or visit the office in Room 120 of the Business Building, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

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