Are internships an edge on college competition?

Considering the brutal acceptance rates at highly selective universities, many students have begun to turn to the advent of internships to bolster and diversify their application.

CHS counselor Jeff Schatz notes that while internships are not yet widely pursued or encouraged, some CHS students are no stranger to the benefits they can reap.

Senior Ethan Kurteff spent the past summer at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, working with an oceanographic research professor to design devices that measure thermal stratification under Arctic Sea Ice.

“The internship fit super well into the engineering focus that primarily made up my college application,” Kurteff says. “It was really helpful because it looked really solid and made up for the fact that I did not have a whole lot of activities.”

However, the senior notes that there are other benefits to internships.

“I learned how difficult it was to see a project through from conception to end. I got some experience of balancing the authority and creative liberty in the workplace,” admits Kurteff, who was recently admitted into Stanford University.

Students are not the only ones who see the wealth of internships.

“An internship will greatly enhance an application because it not only shows initiative, but also practice and application of what a student learns in the classroom,” Schatz says.

The counselor explains that something as substantial as an internship can often be the factor that separates students with similar looking grades, classes and course records once an application gets to the desk of the admissions officer. Moreover, pursuing an internship validates a student’s interest and connections to their desired major.

For senior Isabella Calcatera, spending the past four summers interning at a local veterinary clinic has helped solidify her interest in studying veterinary medicine.

“Without the internship, I would not know what I want to study in college, and I probably would not have anything super substantial to put on my college application,” Calcatera explains.

Along with functioning as the center of her college application, Calcatera’s internship has become a source of pride and fulfillment for her.

“I feel a lot more confident about it because I leave feeling like I am doing something that’s genuinely important,” says the future Colorado State University attendee.

While the area does not offer copious amounts of internship opportunities, many students have been able to turn to local resources like NPS to fulfill their goals for an internship, whatever these may be.

“Half of it is that it looks good and it is going to show that I am interested in my major when applying for college, and the other half is the actual application of learning through the internship,” comments junior Emerson Hardy, who recently secured an engineering internship at NPS focusing on the environmental degradation of nanocomposites.

While it is encouraging to see CHS students pursuing internships under largely their own initiative, CHS counselor Darren Johnston hopes for a future that features a wider availability of internship opportunities for students.

“[The] Carmel High counseling department encourages internships, but that is really the extent of our involvement,” Johnston adds. “We would like to do a whole lot more, but right now we simply do not have the resources to build and sustain an internship program.”

Johnston does, however, have hope for the future of an internship program at CHS.

“I think there is a great opportunity to build an internship program with all of the small business and larger establishments that exist in our community.”

While it is foolish to expect the competitive nature of college admissions to abate in the future, students can look to fortify both their application and knowledge with internships.

-Zac File