The start of spring semester for students at Penn State in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management (RPTM) is the time that students begin planning their summer jobs and internships. The internship search can be very stressful for students as they try to match their career goals with available opportunities. Internship can be an amazing semester that offers the opportunity to put into practice what students have learned in the classroom. Internship can also be a time of learning what the student doesn’t want to do and to help further define a specific career path to seek after graduation.
Numerous studies have asked college students and recent college graduates about internships. A significant number report that they feel that internships should be required. Many report that their internship was where they learned the most about the field.
Because of the applied nature of the recreation, park, tourism and leisure professions, most universities require an internship as part of the undergraduate degree requirements.
At Penn State, we assist students with finding a site for their 12-credit, semester long, internship that meets not only their career goals but also fits within the many parameters that today’s student must consider. Where and what the student wants to do after graduation. Distance from home and the university. Costs of tuition, housing and other related living expenses. Opportunities for employment or promotion from the internship.
The issue of pay for internship is one that comes up quite often for students. Many are unable to consider internships that are unpaid while others have more flexibility. Most understand that working under the direction of a professional in the field has value in and of itself. The Department of Labor has established guidelines for use in defining when and if an intern is really an intern or if they meet the requirements as a paid employee. Concerns such as the training component of the internship, making sure the intern isn’t replacing paid workers, the added workload to the agency in providing support and instruction, and the mutual understanding that a permanent job is not guaranteed after the internship are just a few of the guidelines. In short, government agencies and other non-profits are not required to pay interns. However, to compete with internship providers in the private sector (such as resorts and other commercial operations), many government and non-profit sites offer some kind of compensation including hourly wages or a stipend, housing, meals, etc.
Are you interested in opening your agency or department to interns? The energy, fresh perspective on your programs and services, and support with new initiatives and projects are just a few of the benefits of taking on an intern. At Penn State, we can help you develop an internship program or recruit interns into your existing program through postings of internship opportunities, recruiting opportunities on campus and through our social media sites. Other universities have similar programs and services. Contact your local university. Take an intern!