Posted: Sunday, May 2, 2010 2:00 am | Updated: 9:31 pm, Sat May 1, 2010.
Years ago, people learned skills through the process of becoming an apprentice to the master of a trade.
While the preferred method of entering the career world is through graduating from college, there is still a place to learn about a future job in the workplace first-hand.
Students looking to get ahead can take part in one of the many internships available, said Dr. James Standley, director of the office of institutional accreditation and dean of graduate studies at Stephen F. Austin State University.
"We have a number of different internships available," Standley said. "What we've done over the years is try to find agencies who will accept students as interns."
Each school of study has different requirements and expectations, but the basic structure is similar across the board.
"Some are paid, some are not, and the student works a set numbers of hours," he said. "We'll lay out what the objectives will be, and then we put the student out there where they'll keep a log book and write a paper at the end."
The internship is an important learning tool, Standley said, as the experience is a step above what the classroom can offer.
"It's more of an applied circumstance that you can't simulate in the classroom," he said. "You can do a lot of instruction in the classroom to prepare the student with theoretical examples and cast studies and other types of indirect learning means, but the student does a better job when they are able to put into practice some of the things they have learned."
Internships can also give student an advantage when it's time to enter the career world, said Kelly Daniel, membership and marketing manager for the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce.
"Any student should do an internship, because it is going to put you head and shoulders above your peers who are also graduating," Daniel said. "Peers will have examples of projects from school, projects from class, sample releases that were prepared but not published. Interns will have things that are published, and they can take those clippings and recordings from events and really ‘wow' somebody."
The Nacogdoches chamber typically has two to three interns per semester which chamber leaders typically solicit from different areas of the college.
"We have a lot of opportunities depending on what the students want the most experience in," she said.
The chamber hosts internships from the communications department, business department, hospitality and other areas.
"We have a staff of four folks who work daily," she said. "The intern contributions could not be matched. Without them, we would have a hole here."
The interns also bring a fresh eye to the chamber, she said.
"They have new ideas and give a new perspective on things," she said. "They see differently and keep us fresh."
The college is currently looking to find more opportunities for SFA students with Nacogdoches businesses and organizations.
Keith Lansdale's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.