Pictured at right: Stacey McGillis. Photo taken by Jodi Gillich.
by Jodi Gillich
The end of the semester is fast approaching, a fact that means different things for different people. For some, it means the last few weeks of classes before heading out into the “real world.” For others, it’s the time to begin deciding what their next set of classes will be.
But no matter where they are in their education timeline, nearly everyone is wondering the same thing: Am I ready for the “real world?”
Now, it’s hard to say whether anyone is truly ready for what awaits them outside of university, but there are some steps students can take to prepare themselves. Perhaps the most important yet seemingly difficult to acquire is work experience.
Some students gain this experience during the summer or after graduation, choosing to focus solely on classes during the fall and winter months. Others, however, integrate work experience into their school lives.
There are different ways for students at the University of Regina to accomplish this task. Some faculties require their students to take part in internships, some provide optional internships, and the Co-op program provides work experience opportunities for most students.
Kevin Fiessel, assistant manager of the U of R’s Co-op program, explained that taking part in an internship or work experience program while at university can be very beneficial for students.
“A lot of what you do in class is not necessarily what you do when you start working,” he said. “The theoretical is much different from the practical.”
Kevin Bolen, manager of Co-op, agreed, adding that the programs also help students to understand what exactly they’ll be encountering later in their careers.
“We have a lot of students who go out and do career exploration. They go out and they say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to be an accountant anymore,’ or ‘I don’t want to be an engineer.’ And that’s a good thing, because they’re junior enough in their programs that they can transfer into a different program.”
Diane Mullan, involved with the Faculty of Arts Work Experience Internship, explained that the Arts internship allows students to get an idea of what kind of jobs will be open to them after they graduate. The program requires students to work eight to 10 hours a week, pay tuition, write a paper, and attend a seminar, but they gain three course credits and experience in their field of interest.
“Instead of sitting in an elective class they may or may not have interest in, they have this opportunity to learn some work-place skills and put something valuable on their résumé,” said Mullan.
An aspect some students may find discouraging, however, is the fact that the internships are unpaid.
“With an unpaid internship, I have to work, as well,” said Stacey McGillis, a social work student at the U of R. “I’m only in a part-time internship right now, but in the fall I’ll be in a full-time one which will make it even worse.”
But McGillis said that she wouldn’t give up her internship in favour of classes, despite it being unpaid.
“Internships are good, especially in an area like social work where you need some experience before they just throw you in there. And it makes sense for unpaid internships (in social work), because a lot of these organizations are non-profit organizations.”