Internships can have meaningful impacts on Ohio State students
Buckeye Careers office aids in meeting employers, navigating interviews
For many college students, internships can change their academic and professional trajectories. A job, a graduate program, a career – the right internship provides a student with challenges and opportunities for growth.
The Buckeye Careers office at The Ohio State University works with students to find internships, often paid, that help them gain professional experience. Through resources like Handshake and virtual and in-person career fairs, Buckeyes can connect with employers around the world and across a variety of industries. Program leaders presented their latest data on developing career-ready students to the university Board of Trustees earlier this month.
The office was quick to pivot to virtual events in 2020, including the University-wide Fall Career and Internship Fair. Instead of meeting with employers in person, students could make appointments through Handshake, a university-wide job posting system accessible to all Ohio State students, to speak with companies individually or in small group video chats.
While this transition could have been challenging for students, the Buckeye Careers team immediately offered workshops on preparing for a virtual career fair and virtual interviewing.
“We looked at how you present yourself in multiple digital formats,” said Nancy Thompson, director of Buckeye Careers.
Developing complete online profiles using Handshake and LinkedIn enables students to give potential employers a more accurate picture of who they are, including their interests, skills and experiences. There was also an emphasis placed on presenting oneself through interview technology and video framing – appropriate clothing, professional backgrounds – so students would be successful in this new arena.
Once those initial hurdles were overcome, students and employers had favorable reactions to the virtual career events.
“There are additional costs for employers to attend a career fair in person, whether it’s travel, time or increased registration fees,” Thompson said. “We had employers participating in our career fair for the first time because many of those barriers were removed.”
And employers are not the only group that benefits from the virtual format, Thompson said.
“We can engage with students on all Ohio State campuses throughout the state. It was exciting to see this opportunity broaden the scope and present more opportunities for those students,” she said.
Internships can be a predictor of student success post-graduation. Students who complete an internship are more than twice as likely to have a job at commencement. Students at all Ohio State campuses having access to employers who typically visit only the Columbus campus provides many more opportunities for more students, Thompson added.
Paid internships are also a key component of the university’s Scarlet & Gray Advantage program, which when fully developed will empower thousands of Ohio State students to avoid student debt.
“Paid internships not only provide students with valuable applied learning experiences, they also can help students achieve a debt-free bachelor’s degree through the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program,” Thompson said. “It is exciting to be a part of this impactful program and to help students prepare and connect with employers for paid internship opportunities.”
By pairing work opportunities with scholarships and grants, career development and financial education, the Scarlet & Gray Advantage program will empower students to control their own financial future.
The options for internship fields are numerous, Thompson added.
“We are fortunate to be in Columbus, where there are several Fortune 500 companies as well as a number of new and innovative, entrepreneurial organizations,” she said. “Of course, this is the capital of Ohio, so we have a lot of state agencies as well, who love to come to recruit at Ohio State. We’re very fortunate; we don’t have to sell Ohio State to these employers. We have the opposite problem – they’re banging on our door hard to recruit our amazing students!”