Internships are vital experience for students

John Daywalt

At the end of each semester I usually have a friend or two who is graduating without a job lined up yet. In fact, many usually ask if I am aware of internships they may be interested in. I later find out they had an excellent grade point average but no experience on their résumé.

In each of my semesters at UT, excluding summers, I have worked at different internships related to my field of study. I also served in the military prior to coming to UT. That is to say my résumé is not blank. These internships have provided relevant work experience and networking opportunities that led to a full-time job and career which I will begin in January after graduation.

Many of us are raised to believe that our GPA is the only thing that matters, but I am here to say that a blank résumé matters even more, and not in a positive way.   

In an interview last year, Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior vice president of people operations, admitted that the company has found that GPAs are worthless as a hiring criterion and only marginally useful when dealing with recent college graduates. In fact, Google doesn’t even ask for transcripts anymore unless the new hire is essentially fresh out of college. Later, Bock discussed why GPAs do not matter as much as experience. He described academic environments as being artificial environments where students are conditioned to succeed in school, but in the real-world there is not always a correct answer to a problem. Having the ability and experience to identify solutions to complex scenarios and issues far outweighs providing a professor with the answer they are looking for.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that students should not aim for high GPAs. We should absolutely strive for good grades, but a perfect GPA without any work experience will not get you very far in most majors immediately following graduation. 

As UT students, we are given opportunities students elsewhere can only dream of. We live in one of the largest cities in the U.S. with vast internship opportunities in software development, technology, politics, public relations and business. Austin is always topping the charts for one thing or another. Earlier this year, Austin was ranked as the third-best city for jobs in the U.S. and as the second best for job growth by Forbes. We truly have it made here in Austin based on location alone.

All of us should take advantage of the opportunities Austin has for us and apply to internships that possibly relate to our field. This tidbit of real-world work experience on our résumé may be just enough to push us past our peers in getting our first job out of college. It’s still early enough in the semester that many employers are still accepting applications, but not for much longer. 

Daywalt is a government senior from Copperas Cove. Follow Daywalt on Twitter @JohnDaywalt.