Students struggle to find internships

Kendall Tietz

UT offers 170 fields of studies in 13 colleges and an undergraduate population of over 40,000. The University community boasts diversity and opportunity, but its sheer size can make it challenging to stand out.

Developing industries and new technologies have created jobs, but they have also made it harder for students to narrow in on what they want to pursue. The rise in technology and new career fields have made the path to a job less straightforward.

Nancy Prideaux, senior lecturer in the school of human ecology and the textiles and apparels internship coordinator, said she thinks the aspect students have the hardest time with is deciding what they want to do within the field.

“The struggle, I think, comes more from not knowing what they think they want to do and feeling like they have to find just the right internship to let them know if they’ve gone in the right direction,” Prideaux said.

Prideaux said she works with students individually to help them figure out what they want to pursue so that they aren’t charged with finding internships on their own.

Eve Nicols, professor of instruction in textiles and apparels and director of the technical, functional and apparel design internship course, said a student’s first job is the hardest to land, but once they have that secured, life gets easier.

“Getting a job out of college is never easy,” Nicols said. “It’s something students have to work hard on and have ideas about before they actually get to that point.”

Nicols said it is important for students to get experience in college to build their résumé and skills because that is what companies look for when hiring.

“We have students that volunteer rather than intern while they are still students or work part time either at retail or design companies in Austin,” Nicols said.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Julia Donato has struggled to find work experience in the engineering industry. Last semester she attended the fall Engineering EXPO and researched around 50 companies in preparation.

“You get in line with 30 different people ahead of you for the (companies) that you actually want to work for,” Donato said. “You talk to them for at max a minute, and then they just put your résumé in a huge pile.”

She didn’t hear back from anyone and decided against attending the EXPO this spring. She said a lot of engineering companies are looking to hire people that will work for them in the future, specifically upperclassmen.

Donato said her struggle to find internships is partly due to her lack of connections in the field. She has made the decision to go to law school after graduation in hopes that it will make her more competitive in her search for a job.

“Everyone else in engineering that I know gets their job from connections,” Donato said.

Attia Rasul, a theater and dance junior, said in the theater industry the more skills a person has, such as dancing, singing, acting and stage production, the more jobs they are likely to
qualify for.

“You have to be open to learning and doing a variety of things,” Rasul said. “It is hard to find an internship that fits exactly what you want.”