More than 80% of employers want the new grads they hire to have completed a formal internship, according to a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers on behalf of textbook company Chegg. Unfortunately, only 8% of students nationally say interning in a field related to their major is something they spend any time on.
At Queens, most undergraduates are required to participate in internships in order to graduate. Many students, including psychology major Rachel Holder, complete two or more, often starting in their sophomore years.
Rachel first learned about The Washington Center (TWC) while she was exploring the internship landscape in Charlotte. TWC is a prestigious non-profit serving hundreds of top-ranked colleges and universities in the U.S. and other countries by providing selected students the challenge of working in Washington, D.C. for academic credit. The largest program of its kind, TWC has more than 50,000 alumni, many of whom are in leadership positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors.
She decided it sounded perfect and jumped at the opportunity.
"I wanted to challenge myself outside the classroom. An internship with The Washington Center sounded like a great way to apply the knowledge I learned in the classroom while having a little bit of adventure."
- Rachel Holder, Queens sophomore and psychology major
According to Rachel, TWC is a competitive program, and the application process requires dedication and tenacity. First she had to apply to the program through Queens. Once given the green light, she applied to TWC directly. From there the referral process started, taking Rachel through interviews with various organizations before landing a position. It was about two months before she was offered an internship.
Rachel is spending the semester with The Family Place, a non-profit that empowers low-income families to foster the optimal development of their young children through educational and support services. She works in the early childhood education department assisting lead preschool teachers, performing developmental assessments and helping with lesson planning. Her most important project is a month-long reading challenge to help all students at The Family Place read more.
Aligned with Rachel's goal to become a child life specialist, The Family Place internship is helping her better understand child development and gain experience working with children and families. Beyond invaluable career knowledge, she's become more comfortable living in a busy urban environment and says she's thankful every day for a great public transportation system!
She's also made life-long friends.
"There's definitely a community feel at The Washington Center. We have a lot of fun together, but the reality is this is a demanding program, and it can be rough at times. It's nice to have someone to swap stories with at the end of the day or to support you when you've got a lot on your plate. I don't think any of us would make it without one another."