Internships and Professional Experience
Why workplace experience is so important.
There are a number of reasons why an internship or professional work experience should be part of a student’s Otterbein journey.
An INTERNSHIP is a structured experiential learning opportunity that allows students to apply academic skills and knowledge in professional work settings while earning academic credit. Students learn by taking on carefully monitored, relevant roles as workers (outlined in an approved learning contract) and systematically reflecting on their experiences on the job.
A PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE is a non-credit-bearing but faculty approved career-related learning opportunity in a work environment that helps students to develop professionally relevant skills.
The benefits of this type of learning are many. Earning college credit toward a degree through an internship that provides hands-on experience in the work place is certainly a benefit, but relevant experience in the workplace is also a valuable way to test out tentative career plans. An internship or professional work experience can help a student discover which career niche within their field is the best fit for them or provide the knowledge they need to modify their career direction while there is still time. Through actual workplace exposure, students gain unique insight into their major field and better grasp how their coursework is preparing them for entry into their chosen career.
Students gain many tangible skills as an intern or in an approved work environment. An internship is also a confidence builder. Students who might be intimidated by the prospect of entering the work world when they graduate discover that they have the skills they need to succeed. Many people they meet in the workplace can become a potential contact for their network and someone they can call upon for advice and referrals when job-hunting for their first professional job.
Internships and professional work experiences can provide many personal benefits and develop an individual’s competencies, but they also can open up many doors. Employers increasingly want evidence of relevant work experience in the new college graduates they hire, so by completing an internship or professional work experience, a student will clearly have an edge over those who haven’t. It is also a fact that employers see their internship programs as an increasingly important gateway for evaluating and hiring entry-level candidates, and are often willing to pay higher entry-level salaries to reward that experience.
As demand for more well-rounded graduates with practical professional experience continues to grow, internships and other types of professional experience have increasingly become an integral part of the higher education experience.
- Students will integrate, evaluate, test, synthesize and apply academic knowledge and theoretical concepts in a work setting.
- Students will hone professional skills, expand their understanding of the work place through exposure to various work cultures and environments and gain access to knowledge and resources not available on campus.
- Students will grow cognitively through engaging in environments where they will be required to make subjective decisions involving uncertainties, solve complex problems, operate autonomously and collaborate with co-workers in the exchange of ideas.
- Through exposure to workplace expectations, students will be inspired to take greater responsibility for their education and life, develop effective work habits and adopt values and beliefs consistent with becoming a reliable and productive individual.
- By taking on paraprofessional roles, students will build self-confidence and maturity, be empowered to seek out new resources and personal contacts, develop insight into their personal abilities and crystallize career and life goals.