Editorial: For-credit internships through UConn need a swift makeover
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 23:09
One of the most powerful tools in an undergraduate’s arsenal for getting hired after graduation is getting involved with a summer internship in their field. It puts students on employers’ radars and, in the case of for-credit internships, allows students to collect UConn credits for their fieldwork during the intersession. As UConn students settle into the fall semester, now is a good time to look back and reflect on some of the flaws with the University’s for-credit internship program and make students aware of them for the future.
The most egregious thing to point out about these internships is the cost versus the benefit. Students can pay upwards of one thousand dollars to participate in the summer intersession and only collect three credits from their internship. While it’s true that they could get more bang for their buck by taking other classes in addition to their internship, many students have to commute to regional campuses to do that, which would be in addition to the commuting that they have to do for their internship work. Because these internships don’t pay as a result of the student collecting college credit, this option is not viable, to the point of being impossible for many undergraduates.
The question then becomes, what are students actually paying for with this seemingly outrageous amount of money? The school provides them with an internship coordinator who will supervise them either through weekly reports or phone conversations with someone at the job site. These coordinators are neither required to secure you an internship, or to put you in touch with potential employers. That is on the student and is said to be part of the job experience.
In other words, the university provides paying students with a coordinator who is not required to help, but merely blow a whistle if something goes wrong. While that makes sense from the university’s standpoint, students are forced to ask again, “So, what am I paying for?”
While the specifics of each internship program are different depending on the department, the university cannot continue to charge this much money and provide almost no resources to students. There are already payment methods in place within the admission system, such as the Early College Experience program for high school students, that scales back the cost based on what the students get out of the program. Why can this not be applied to for-credit internships? This field experience is invaluable to the undergraduate education. If the university wants to promote student involvement in real-world experience, they need to do more than charge an inordinate amount for it and provide nothing in return.