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The West Press

The West Press

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Test Drive Your Career Interests

Test Drive Your Career Interests

No one wants to get into a college major, trade school, or job only to realize they hate their career path. Internships and shadowing allow students to test the waters of their career interests and steer toward better career investments. An internship is broadly defined as giving a student or trainee work experience with an organization, internships are often like having a job close to the desired field for at least a few weeks. Shadowing is when someone observes the work of a professional. Both give students an idea of their career interests in practice.

Internships are proven to be insightful to students. A study by The American Student Association claims, “In Skills for Rhode Island’s Future’s PrepareRI program, 89% of the nearly 500 students who completed an internship said they believe the skills they learned during the experience will help them in the future”(ASA). The positive feedback on internships continues, “-and a similar number (79%) said it provided an opportunity to learn about their unique and specific skills and interests”(ASA). The majority of students who got internships found value in it, not to mention “Unpaid internships certainly still exist (20% of employers in our survey do not pay their high school interns), but in light of government guidelines, many companies have opted to offer paid internships-”(ASA). If internships have the potential for learning and pay, how does a student get one?

Finding people to shadow or intern for can be difficult, but it’s all about reaching out and searching. Several websites are dedicated to linking students with companies seeking interns, not to mention the miracle of social media. If a job field seems too involved to allow internships, shadowing might be a better approach. Asking a parent, guardian, or close adult about their connections can be an excellent first step to finding shadowing opportunities. Everyone knows someone. When communicating interest in internships or shadowing, emailing or formal contact might be necessary or appropriate to ask permission to shadow and set up dates and times. Reaching out for internship and shadowing opportunities should not be met harshly. 

It can’t hurt to try! Don’t be afraid to shadow or intern if you think you have found a good career fit. An effective way to open the door to opportunity is to get connections, and an effective way to get connections is simply to reach out. Students learn more than just what they are interested in, they learn professional skills and specific likes and dislikes. Career and employment are the inevitable future for most, so try to make an informed decision.

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