Attending university in the U.S. is about much more than gaining a solid education; it’s also about gaining experience and skills necessary for securing a job.
Attending university in the United States is about much more than gaining a solid education; it’s also about gaining valuable experience and skills necessary for securing a job. Educators know this and have been petitioning for students’ participation in internships and career preparation for decades. At American universities, internships and co-ops are the norm and becoming increasingly competitive for students to participate in.
“The skills one can gain from an internship will vary, but in an internship, students can’t help but sharpen existing skills by interacting with people on a professional level and in a way that they would never have the opportunity to do in the classroom.” – Katherine Lang, Senior Director of Internship Programs at Shorelight Education
According to U.S. News & World Report, on average 38% percent of students in American universities participate in some sort of internship prior to graduation. This number is surprisingly small when compared to the growing awareness of the vital importance of internships for a student to find a job after graduation. With the shift in focus from students and parents away from attending university as a rite-of-passage or growth experience, towards a return on investment or as a step in a career path, the pressure on universities to secure students high-quality internships is increasing. Internships help students develop critical skills, build their resume, gain confidence, and most importantly, build professional networks.
“Internships enable students to take their career plan for a test drive and gain a valuable understanding of their major field and be better able to grasp how their coursework is preparing them to enter their chosen career path,” says Katherine Lang, Senior Director of Internship Programs at Shorelight Education. “The skills one can gain from an internship will vary, but in an internship, students can’t help but sharpen existing skills by interacting with people on a professional level and in a way that they would never have the opportunity to do in the classroom.”
International students’ awareness of the importance of work experience and career preparation is increasing as well. International students are looking for schools that offer internship placement, career services and large professional networks to increase their chances of securing a job after graduation. Before they even select a university, many students inquire if internships are available.
Director, Student Recruitment at Shorelight Education, Dom Berardi, confirms this trend stating, “Students are asking ‘What services are offered to assist in placement, what are placement rates for my program during or after graduation, and what are my chances of getting Optical Practical Training (OPT)?’” Berardi continues to explain that internships are valuable even for those students who will not stay in the U.S.:
“Thousands of students come back to their home countries with overseas credentials, the real edge is showing they worked for a U.S. multi-national company and have practical skills and experience that most of their home country peers lack. This gives them a much better chance to obtain a job at a multi-national and command a wage premium in their home country.”
International students face more hurdles than the average domestic student when applying for internships or jobs. There are cultural and language barriers, in addition to immigration laws students must abide by, including Curricular Practical Time (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT). These can be overwhelming for international students to balance along with their regular studies and social engagements. Career services professionals on campuses must be properly prepared to address the specific needs of international students to ensure their future success.
Universities pride themselves on their alumni networks and career centers, and are often looking for ways to enhance both. Shorelight Education offers partner universities the opportunity to run a program tailored for international students: the Career Accelerator Program (CAP).
“Thousands of students come back to their home countries with overseas credentials, the real edge is showing they worked for a U.S. multi-national company and have practical skills and experience that most of their home country peers lack. This gives them a much better chance can get a job at the wage premium at a multi-national operating in their home country.”
The Career Accelerator Program is strategically structured to prepare undergraduate and graduate students to be competitive in a crowded global job market. By allowing students to explore career interests, practice interview skills and develop a powerful resume or CV, they gain the skills and confidence to secure internships and jobs upon graduation. Throughout the year-and-a-half program, students are assigned a career advisor to foster mentoring and coaching and advise on how to best utilize their schools’ extensive alumni networks.
Global UCF Managing Director at the University of Central Florida, Mary Kay Haseley, sees first-hand how important career assistance is for international students:
“Students are inquiring about internships and other professional offerings early on in their academic careers. Some of the most commonly asked questions are: ‘How will I be prepared for my internship, and ‘how do I find quality internship opportunities?’ CAP students learn how to market their skills and experiences within today’s global job market and connect with potential employers with the help of dedicated CAP Advisors. Plus, our CAP program provides internship placement assistance for students who qualify.”
Do you want to learn more about Shorelight Education’s Career Accelerator Program? Email email@example.com to learn more about CAP!