Finding the balance between internships and class
As an 18-year-old high school senior, I knew that I wanted to go to college near New York. The city represented independence and opportunity for my future as a magazine editor. Thus, I decided to attend Seton Hall, which offers more than 15,000 internship opportunities and is a short train ride away from the Big Apple.
Our university prides itself on this proximity to the city and internship possibilities. But in order to complete an internship, a major time commitment, the academic quality of my work has inevitably declined.
So what’s a student to do? Prioritize internships which our school encourages students to take part in or value the education I spend $50,000 dollars a year to receive?
Many SHU students, about 75 percent to be exact, will take two or even three internships in their academic career, missing a lot of education which they may never recover from. While these internships may provide valuable experiences, some don’t amount to much.
Ethan Kraft, a junior broadcasting and sociology major, has had two internships. One at CNBC and the other at Late Night with Seth Meyers. Kraft understands that both academics and his internships are valuable, however the real world opportunities are extremely helpful.
“I’ve been able to witness the everyday responsibilities of people in the industry I hope to work in,” Kraft said. “I’ve been able to better understand which areas of broadcasting I would like to pursue and which I’m less interested in.”
“Internships can also provide a multitude of networking opportunities, which are truly invaluable, especially within the broadcasting industry,” he added.
Personally, as an aspiring journalist, I agree with Kraft, but would even go so far as to say that I value my internship experiences above my academic career. I’ve been fortunate enough to be an Editorial Intern for a media and entertainment site where I focus on celebrity interviews, for my third semester in a row.
The opportunity to build my resume and the amount of celebrities I’ve interviewed, is an irreplaceable experience which will set me apart from other college graduates when I go out to find a job in a short year and a half.
However, after speaking to two academic advisers, it is clear that the SHU faculty would actually encourage me to have more “balance” in my priorities.
“Academics come first,” said Thomas Rondinella, a professor of communication, interim director of curriculum and new college initiatives for the new College of Communication and the Arts, and program chair for broadcasting and visual media. “Internships supplement the educational experience.”
Essentially, Professor Rondinella believes that internships and academics complement each other. However, I disagree. I’ve learned more from the practical day-to-day experiences of my job than I ever would have in a classroom. You can’t learn how to properly interview a celebrity by reading a textbook.
Dr. Jon Radwan, a faculty member and chair of the communication program in the new College of Communication and the Arts, believes that pitting academics against internships is a false dichotomy.
“All for credit internships in our college have an academic component,” he said. Dr. Radwan doesn’t believe that a job should be a student’s sole desire out of education. “If our top educational priority is a paycheck we may miss out on nurturing the many parts of our potential that are not valued by employers,” he added.
But, as a student, the only reason I pay the big bucks to attend Seton Hall is because of the pursuit of my future job. I like to think realistically. I understand that my internships could lead to a job after I graduate, so I treat my internship like a full-time job, proving my commitment and dedication to my future.
Rebecca White can be reached at email@example.com.