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by Monica Karlstein, student writer

Years of studying makes a student full of useful knowledge, but without any practical experience it is worth little on the job market.

“ A degree is a hiring requirement and nothing more than that,” said Lianne Maeda, director of Career Services Center at HPU. “Employers want students who have taken advantage of additional work experience opportunities that allowed them to test out and apply the academic theories from the classroom in the real work environment.”

Maeda said that an internship may be an important step to starting a career. But getting one can be tricky.

“The most important thing is to ask yourself what you hope to gain from the opportunity and to find something that will enhance your skill set,” she said.

She also recommended that students have clear expectations of the internship.

“ It is difficult to search for something if you’re not sure what it is,” she said. (“Otherwise you might) put yourself in a situation where you have to settle for something you really don’t want.”

According to Maeda, students should start searching for an internship at least one or two months in advance. Students should actively seek out internships through networking.

Philipp Merker, an interning HPU student, found out about his current internship at Merrill Lynch Honolulu by networking with his teacher at HPU.

“ HPU and Merrill Lynch had already built up a relationship,” said Merker. “Students should apply through the Career Services Center. I wouldn’t have been able to get this internship without their support.”

Teachers at HPU sometimes advertise internship opportunities in class, although the best way, according to Maeda, is to see a career counselor at the Career Services Center who gets all the posted internships. Career Services Center helps around 450 students earn internships. They offer different kinds of help such as career counseling, interview techniques, and cover letter and résumé writing.

Shauna Goya, copy editor and intern coordinator at the Honolulu Advertiser, said that a creative cover letter is very important.

When applying for an internship at the Honolulu Advertiser, an application should include a personal cover letter and résumé, a variety of sample clips, references, and a letter of recommendation. An intern committee of eight people try to find the best four to six interns per year, out of approximately 100 applicants, said Goya. They are looking for people who are very committed to journalism and have experience from a college paper or previous internships.

Goya pointed out how important it is to follow instructions when applying for an internship.
“ If it says submit six clips, do not send in 20,” said Goya. “Instructions are there for a reason and it’s the first step in seeing how well a potential intern takes directions.”

An internship is not only a chance to make use of the knowledge from college, it might also be a starting shot for your career. Maeda said internship is an ideal situation for both students and companies. A student can “take a test drive” to see if the job is what they want to work with in the future, while the company can try a student’s potential as an employee.

“ We have had employers either recommend students to their contacts for career opportunities or hired students upon completion of the internship,” said Maeda.

Merker continued by saying that even if his internship doesn’t lead to a job opportunity in the company, he has got the time and opportunity to make contacts which might be useful for his future career.

“ I expect to gain some work experience in the finance sector,” said Merker. “I will get a general idea of the daily work, so I can figure out whether this would be something I want to do after my graduation.”

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