Summer Internships vs. Jobs

This could be you!


In this last stretch before spring break, Kenyon students seem busier than ever, whether its Comps, midterms, or applications for various summer programs. Despite the daily snow flurries and sub-zero temperatures, this time in the semester has Kenyon students looking ahead to the warmer months and wondering what they will be doing in that time off (unless they’re seniors, in which case they’re looking ahead to the next several years!). There are many options available to us as Kenyon students, depending on our budgets and our geographical location. We can work, travel, intern, or sit home and watch Netflix for three months. But at the end of the day, most of us will either find jobs or internships.

Now I don’t want to say that one route is better than the other, I am not here today to bash those who work at McDonald’s and celebrate those who intern in the White House. I understand that many people take one route or another based on their financial situation, connections, or simply where their interests lie. There is a definite stereotype that internships are superior to jobs, because they provide work experience or a brand name to student resumes. This persists despite the often repeated tales of internships only providing experience in getting coffee and sitting around. “I know a lot of people get ‘internships’ and don’t end up doing a bunch, I actually did things,” explained Stuart Mitchell ’15, who has spent several of his summers as a lifeguard and his latest working at Helpline here at Kenyon.

However, Edgar Martin ’17 believes internships can be very helpful, noting that “they [internships] allow you to judge whether or not you do want to go down a specific career path.” He also noted that “I want to apply to law school and work experience is something that is often seen as required.”


Chronicle of Higher Ed

According to the above graph from the Chronicle of Higher Ed, employers only count internships two percentage points above employment when considering a graduate for hire. Work experience is never a bad thing, it still teaches responsibility and the importance of sticking to a schedule and bosses and coworkers, both bad and good can be found at jobs and internships alike.

At the end of the day though, the decision to pursue a job or an internship may be out of a student’s hand. Costs can be a serious issue for students, and can have many impacts on what students do. Martin has worked here at Kenyon last summer and plans to again this summer; “for me the benefits are that I get to earn money” explained Martin, noting costs he must cover throughout the year.  Earning money is definitely a plus for many students who need the cash to help pay their bills, but whether or not to accept an internship can be impacted by more than just what will hit your savings account or be used to pay tuition. Many internship programs are in big cities, Chicago, New York, San Francisco. Students who live in or just outside these metropolitan areas have a distinct advantage over students who live in rural areas. It can be expensive to relocate to a big city for a summer, sublets can be pricey and hard to find and though many universities offer up their dorms for rent, these rooms can run hundreds of dollars a month.

Kenyon has taken steps in the right direction over the past few years seek opportunities through the CDO and support themselves with internship stipends. Martin explained that he is “interested in getting an internship and the school has done a good job at making internships a feasible thing for underprivileged students, however I still need to have money to spend during the school year.”

At the Greek Alumni Panel over the weekend, the panelists stressed the importance of doing a good job explaining what you have done with your time, whether it was a job or an internship, and I think think this is important to remember. What you do may be out of your hands, but the important thing to remember is to work hard and take as much from the experience as you can. Any boss for whom you work hard will be a good reference and any experience you enjoy and can elaborate on will impress potential future employers. However, the reality of the situation is ultimately the decision is up to what a student wants to do and what is financially feasible.

One response

  1. Pingback: 10 o’clock list: Things Kenyon People Don’t Do Over Spring Break | The Thrill

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