Internships play vital role in shaping careers

The work world can be a daunting place for recent college graduates.

With a sagging economy, businesses want reliable, experienced employees and have little time for training.

“It can be tough sometimes,” said Diane MacKenzie McCann, director of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland’s academic and career enrichment center. “They’re going to be surprised. Life can humble people.”

Internships and experiential work can provide a smooth transition for those leaving the academic life.

McCann’s office maintains a database of about 900 companies and organizations, including Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services.

Jennifer Rowley, internship coordinator at Loyola College in Maryland, says her school has maintained an online internship database called Hounds4Hire the last five years.

“Students are able to go online and upload their résumé and a cover letter,” Rowley said.

She said most of Loyola’s students go abroad during their junior year, and the database includes international companies that can be beneficial during their travels. Students who remain local can look for internships as early as their freshman year.

Money can be earned if a company has paid internships, but most students are working toward earning credit hours.

Many students from Notre Dame and Loyola use their respective databases to find internships for a semester or for the summer.

McCann said she is currently working with students to procure them internships for the fall semester. She said students should give themselves around six to eight weeks to find internships.

Some companies conduct searches for summer internships as early as November and December, according to Rowley.

Still, Rowley is currently getting calls from companies looking for interns this summer.

“Sometimes companies don’t know what they need until a project comes along,” Rowley said.

McCann advises students that they are being evaluated in the workforce. She recommends they be confident, but humble, and always professional.

Rowley added that an internship is “the ultimate learning experience” for students as they determine their career paths.

Rowley and McCann, both St. Joseph, Cockeysville, parishioners, say there is a high awareness about internships on their respective campuses.

McCann estimates that about 80 percent of Notre Dame students attain professional work experience. Loyola’s class of 2007 had 74 percent participation, according to Rowley.

“We’re always seeking to be more visible to students,” McCann said of the women at Notre Dame.

Rowley said the door is always open at Loyola as well.

“Our big push here is that we’re here to help them in this process,” Rowley said. “They’re not alone.”

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.