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Investing in internships may prove profitable

By Jennifer Riley

May 11, 2003 9:00 p.m.

With the school-free season of summer approaching, students are
deciding how to use the sunny days ahead as efficiently and
effectively as possible. 

But while initial inclination for students might be a temporary
retail job for some quick cash, seeking out and seizing an
internship opportunity can prove more beneficial in the long run,
according to the UCLA Career Center.

Dario Bravo, internship and study abroad services manager for
the center, said the drawback to a temporary job is that there is
little room for students to gain exposure to specific fields.

“Internships allow for more freedom and give students more
control over what they do,” he said.

Bravo also said internships are becoming increasingly important
as the work force becomes more competitive. 

“Both paid and unpaid internships have increased
tremendously over the last five years,” Bravo said.
“Eighty percent of college students graduating in 2002 had
internship experience.”Â 

Bravo especially encouraged undergraduate and undeclared
students to dabble in possible career paths that interest
them. 

“How do you know that your field is right for you unless
you have experienced it?” he asked. “For students who
don’t know what they want to do: find out by trying different
things.”

The Career Center’s Local Project Counselor, Eric Baldwin,
also recommends that students intern during summer vacation.

Baldwin discussed benefits of summer internships and jobs with
about 20 students Thursday at Rieber Hall.

“A big part of an internship is finding out whether you
like the field,” Baldwin said. 

He went on to explain that low-paying, career-oriented positions
“allow you to gain skills that will translate into a higher
salary when you graduate.”

One of the students attending the workshop was John Chang, a
first-year engineering student. Chang plans to get an internship
that will help him along his career path and believes internships
are more helpful than jobs.

Another internship advocate is UCLA alumna Silvia Thomas, who
manages internships for the UCLA medical department’s Care
Extender Internship Program. 

Thomas obtained her current position through an internship in
the program while studying at UCLA.

“The whole point of an internship is to get
experience,” she said. “You are there to learn, and
internships are hands-on.”

Thomas also said undergraduate students should intern sooner
rather than later. 

“Don’t put it off because before you commit to a
specific career; you should know what you are getting yourself
into,” she said.

To find internship and career-related job openings, Baldwin said
Internet sites, newspapers and personal contacts are excellent ways
to seek out employment opportunities. 

The Career Center provides students with a variety of programs,
ranging from Washington, D.C. summer internships for those who want
to travel to crime-scene investigation internships.

Career counseling, résumé assistance and even mock
interviews are available at the Career Center.

Both Bravo and Baldwin assured the students that companies are
still hiring for summer interns.

“This is the stuff that builds resumes and opens
doors,” Bravo said. “It sets you above the next job
applicant.”

Information about summer internships can be found at the UCLA
Career Center Web site at www.career.ucla.edu.

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