Internships: Real Life, Hands-on Experience

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Choosing a career after graduating college or even a major to study for four years may be a daunting task to some. Participating in an internship during college is a way to gain hands-on experience in your area of choice, and ease the fear of the unknown.

“Some interns find that the nature of work in their field is not what they expected, and sometimes return to campus to drop their current major and embark on a new one. Most students find their internships confirmatory and validate the major that they have chosen,” said Paul Roodin, director of the Experience-Based Education office at SUNY Oswego.

Some majors at SUNY Oswego require the completion of an internship in the student’s major area of study. The internship may be completed during fall, spring or summer semesters.

“Work for an employer as an intern can lead to academic credit for undergraduates. Some students and some people in the community think that all students have to do is punch in their hours and when they get to 120 — they have earned three credits,” said Roodin.

At Oswego, students involved in internships must complete 120 hours of work at the site to earn the equivalent of three credits toward their degrees. Roodin said internships are an eminent tool to prove experience to potential employers.

“Internships these days lead to full-time jobs. Employers are using internships as a screening device to see who is good enough to hire for entry-level positions. Graduate schools are reviewing applicants to see which ones have completed internships successfully — that way they know students understand the field they want to enter and the competencies needed to be a professional,” he said.

Students’ Experiences

Jessica Myers, a senior at SUNY Oswego, recently completed a spring-summer internship through the Disney College program.

“I had to do an online application and a phone interview through Disney. Then I waited about three months until I found out if I got the internship or not. When I found out I had gotten the position, I had to pay $300 to hold my place. After that I had to take care of all of the things at school through the internship office,” Myers said of securing her position at Disney.

While interning at Disney, Myers works at a restaurant as a hostess. She is responsible for catering to the needs of restaurant patrons, from checking them in and providing them with direction, to closing the restaurant and preparing for the following day’s open.

“The most real-world experience I’m getting out of this is how to remain calm while talking to angry guests. It’s absolutely amazing what guests will tell you when they’ve had to wait for a table. I’ve had guests come in and throw things at me, scream at me, curse at me. I immediately ask exactly what they’d like me to do for them and usually it’s to get the manager,” Myers said.

Aside from earning college credits and a resume-builder, Myers said she is enjoying her internship and being on her own in a real-world situation.

“Coming here was a big reality check after a few weeks. This is real life, and I was thrown into it. Even though I knew it was coming, I didn’t prepare for everything I’m going through now,” Myers said.

Alexandra Baierlein is a senior at SUNY Oswego studying broadcasting. She recently completed a summer internship at Citi Field for the New York Mets baseball team.

She got her internship through two interviews with the human resources department and the supervisor of her particular department in marketing productions.

Baierlein interned in the scoreboard offices completing varying tasks from building graphics to editing video sequences.

“On office days, I work non-game days and build at-bat graphics, edit video sequences and create melts, which are highlight videos from past games. When I work game days, I work in the control room either doing inning summary or at-bats. I have to watch who is up to bat each time and put their specific graphics up on the board at the right time,” Baierlein said.

She has also assisted the camera crews on the field during pre-game shows and has been assigned to entertain the “talent,” the person who sings the pre-game national anthem, she said.

“I am gaining real-world experience every day I go into my internship, Baierlein said. “I work with people from ESPN, SNY and the Mets’ marking productions team. My tasks during games such as inning summaries actually go up onto the scoreboard during the game, so there is no room for mistakes.”

Baierlein chose the internship to network with professionals working in the industry. She is in contact with people such as Howie Rose, Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling on a daily basis, she said.

“I enjoy being at games the most, and watching them from the control room. The feeling of being a part of the production of the game is the best in the world. From the internship, I really feel like I figured out what I want to do as a future career. Everyone in the control room has a specific task they must complete in order to achieve a common goal: a game production. Everyone must work together as team, and it’s a great feeling when everything is carried out correctly and well,” said Baierlein.