Every major at KU comes with its positives and its negatives—the ups and downs, the yin to its yang. Students like to believe that the positives to their major far outweigh the negatives, because, really, if the opposite were true, you would find longer lines of students desperately trying to switch or drop a major.
For example, I am studying Professional Writing (PW). One positive to my major is the collection of awesomely experienced professors that teach me many helpful skills I will use somewhere in my career, such as desktop publishing, journalism and (my personal favorite) creative writing. I have and continue to learn a lot from these PW classes, something I hope the majority of students can say about their majors of study.
Unfortunately, this major comes with a negative; something only current and past KU PW Seniors will understand: the internship process.
I have done some research and found that professional writers are not the only people required to take an internship before they graduate. In fact, a lot of other majors in different fields of study are also required, or strongly suggested, to accomplish an internship or research project of the same degree. I have no problem with completing an internship. I think it’s a terrific idea for students to get a feel for what they might be doing in a future career, and it should be required for all majors.
The problem I have with this process is the eventual due date for internship applications. KU requires that their students know where they will be interning up to five months before the professional semester. Unfortunately, many businesses are only looking for an intern just a couple of months before they start the job. If the application is due in the middle of April (like it is for PW majors), a business will assume that you are applying for a summer position, when in fact you might be looking for the fall.
Right now, I know quite a few PW majors scrambling to find an internship before the end of April. Luckily, the faculty understand their students’ stress and are willing to extend the deadline for some extreme cases of not hearing any feedback for weeks from some potential employers. And luckily, a few businesses are empathetic to the unrealistic deadlines that KU demands. I am in the midst of talking to The Morning Call, an Allentown-based newspaper for the Lehigh Valley, and my contact has told me that even though she is still finalizing her interns for the summer, she will give me an interview for a position in the fall. Unfortunately, not all businesses are that understanding.
The same goes for many other majors at KU. Electronic Media and Sports Management share Professional Writing’s stress with their spring applications due early fall and their summer/fall applications due in early spring. However, Business majors have until early May to apply for a summer internship and research requirements for the various science majors are more relaxed as well.
Because I believe that having an internship or research project is something that should be required for every major, I ask that KU move to reform that all application deadlines for such professional semesters be the same for all majors. I think it would make the most sense for positions acquired in the spring to be due by the middle-late fall semester; positions in the summer due by the middle of spring; and positions in the fall due at the end of spring/beginning of summer.
An internship is extremely important and worthwhile—it gives the student a more in-depth look into the life of someone in their educational path and it may end with a potential job offer. We don’t want someone to miss out on an opportunity just because it is April 11 and businesses don’t look into fall applications until the end of June.
By Mary Pickett