Internships Eat Summer
by Jessica Sides | published Apr. 26th, 2019
Students have many opportunities that seem necessary to succeed in their respective fields. One of the opportunities that a number of majors at RIT require are co-ops. Even if it’s not required for your major, many students still feel pressured to go away on co-op while in college. Additionally, in order to pay high tuition costs, some students work jobs during the semester that are potentially unrelated to their major. Students sacrifice their valuable time to additional projects when they could be devoting that time to schoolwork, sleep or recreation.
The majority of students spend much of their free time building up their portfolios. Knowing that employers will evaluate them on these works is an added stressor for these students. In tandem with this, students stress over getting that vital work experience that employers are looking for before they graduate college.
All of these stressors affect students’ academic success, which is much more important than any one of these distractions.
According to Huffington Post, four out of five students end up working while also being a full-time student. Many need the funds to keep up with tuition payments. I, myself, uphold three jobs and work about 15 hours per week. Finances are a large stressor for me, just as they are for thousands of other students on campus.
Emily Frebowitz, a third year New Media Design major, works 20 hours every week — the maximum permitted for on-campus employment.
“I would probably have stronger [design] projects if I didn’t have to work during the school year,” Frebowitz said.
The academic outcomes for students are arguably much better if they don’t have to spend time outside of class on responsibilities such as part-time jobs, especially as they often make only $6,000 per year.
Internships are another vital part of any college experience, but they can be tricky. Students spend a lot of quality time searching and applying for internships with no guarantee of acceptance. Many internships don't pay students. Instead, some might be strictly for experience or college credit, leaving students spending their time working for little to no pay. Jack McDowall, a first year Industrial Design major, understands this struggle.
“It’s difficult at this age to work because you don’t get paid, or you get paid very little. It’s nice to make money, but for me it’s more about the experience at such a young age,” he said. “I’m glad to put it on my resume.”
Building Up Portfolios
The art and design students of our university spend large amounts of time building up their portfolios to impress future employers. Not only is building art portfolios a task students do on top of their other art and design projects, but they also often spend their summers doing the same. Students like Ted Ryan, a third year Illustration major, do exactly this.
“I have a backlog of work [from Fall and Spring semesters], such as unused sketches I develop. I started a graphic novel last summer, and I start other projects to keep productive,” Ryan said.
Similarly, students unrelated to the arts spend their time looking for experience in their field. Whether it is lab work, helping professors with research or searching for internships and co-ops, these students are constantly looking to boost their resumes. Brennan Farrelly, a third year Illustration major, is concerned about his resume.
“Expressing your interests in your portfolio is easier than a wall of text ... [Employers] look at a resume for maybe six seconds. You get a better feel for someone as an artist with a portfolio,” Farrelly said.
"[Employers] look at a resume for maybe six seconds."
Those students with multiple majors go through further hardships. Personally, I am a double major in Physics and Psychology. Double majors put in twice the amount of work that someone with only one major would put into schooling. Not only do double majors often take 18+ credits every semester, but many also have to take summer classes to cover the rest.
On top of that, finding internships and co-ops are an immense challenge. Most individual majors at RIT require co-ops, leaving double majors to take on multiple — the struggle is real.
Attempting to find a balance between all of these things is near impossible without sacrificing sleep, socialization, healthy eating habits and one's own mental well-being. Penn State University did a study on how working while in college affects a student’s academic success. They found that we are short on time and commonly find ourselves with limited opportunities to study, sleep and eat. on how working while in college affects a student’s academic success. They found that we are short on time and commonly find ourselves with limited opportunities to study, sleep and eat.
Gabe Cagara, a third year New Media Design major, deals with this on the regular.
“It can be hectic to have a job, do schoolwork and apply for internships. It just leads to stress,” he said.
"It can be hectic to have a job, do schoolwork and apply for internships. It just leads to stress."
There’s not a whole lot I could do to better manage my time. The point is that I have so little to spare, and professors should understand that. It would be so much easier if professors were more lenient and understanding about student workloads.
Nasha Torres, a third year New Media Design major, claimed her professor outright told her that "none of us [students] should have jobs. We should be focusing on our schoolwork." However, for many it's simply not feasible.
I've had professors tell me that for every one credit hour we enroll, we should spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying to succeed. This is a nonsensical goal. Those who partake in internships or part-time jobs cannot get anywhere close to this amount of studying. Between part-time jobs and extracurriculars, this often isn't possible, and takes away from our grades and GPA.
Stress is something that follows in the wake of success. The opportunities of success don’t come without effort — you have to work for it. Sometimes we don’t have the privileges that others have, and we are required to fill that gap. Getting a part-time job is a burden many of us will bear in the duration of our stay at RIT. More often than not, we aren't lucky enough to have our parents pay our tuition or scholarships covering all costs, and that's something that professors fail to understand or accommodate. This just leaves us with stress, unreasonable expectations and a ton of tears. We are screwed.