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Westminster College students build networks through internships

Grey Burnett, a sophomore English major, works in Westminster College’s Career Center on Oct. 5. Westminster’s Career Center aims to create access and connections between students and employer — including through internships, which allow students to build their skills and gain résumé experience. (Photo by Hasib Hussainzada)

Brianna Midgley, director of the Career Center, said she owes her current job to her previous internships. Through experience, networking and building relationships, Midgley said all students can benefit from internships.

“Westminster was looking for a business counselor and I had been working with students in business in San Diego State in my internship,” Midgley said. “I think that was a huge reason I was able to get that position here, because I had really relevant experience.”

A part-time job can carry some of the same benefits of an internship, but there are key differences, such as the structure and time frame, that may prove more rewarding to some students, Midgley said.

Many internships are set up to be a 10-week program where students are trained, work on projects and may be transitioned into a full-time position. Part-time jobs don’t always have the same guarantees and are usually an ongoing commitment.

“The priority is school,” Midgley said. “You’ve got to make sure you are doing well in your classes and staying engaged on campus, because those things are actually really important to employers as well.”

Though many majors at Westminster suggest internships, some programs — including business, communication, arts administration and outdoor leadership — require their students to complete one as a part of their degree.

Moriah Rutterbush-Rayment, an accounting and international business major, is interning with the Utah-based coffee shop Beans and Brews in its corporate office until November.

“I think there are a lot of benefits [of having an internship],” Rutterbush-Rayment said. “I didn’t know this was exactly what I wanted to do and then I was doing it and I loved it. So, it was like the affirmation that ‘Yes, you are going to be ok.’”

Rutterbush-Rayment said she is currently working on networking to find more internships for the spring semester, which she hopes will help her find her passion.

“The reason I am doing a bunch of internships is because I don’t know what I want to do,” she said. “Being able to be around Beans and Brews and their mentality and the way that they do things is helping me learn that.”

Meghan Garrecht-Connelly, a communication major, said she thinks employers like to see internship experience on a résumé — especially since most are in a student’s field of study.

“I’ll have experience and I will kind of know what I want based on if I liked that internship or not,” she said. “And if I liked that internship, there is a future career.”

Even if Garrecht-Connelly wasn’t required to complete an internship, she said she would still do at least one to help her gain experience in a field, grow her network and decide what she wants to do after graduation.

Midgley recommended students start thinking about ways to gain experience even before they apply for an internship.

“There’s a lot of things you can do to kind of start building your résumé before you have that experience so that by the time you get to a point where you’re applying for internships you have some really good experience to talk about,” she said.

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