Student survey finds internships growing in popularity

A feeling still persists in some circles that university degrees nowadays are ten a penny and barely worth the paper they’re written on. In particular, such harsh criticism has often come from members of the business community, with the major complaint being that the graduates of today are ill-prepared for the world of work. Certainly, unemployment and the lack of employability of graduates is an active subject of debate across both the developed and developing world.

An internship or co-op is the obvious way to bridge the gap between academia and the world of work, allowing students to test-drive their chosen careers while also giving them opportunities to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations and challenges. Adding such experiences to the CV is one way of enhancing the chances of landing a decent job. At least a growing number of graduates appear to think so.

A recent survey by the US organisation NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, underlined the point when it found nearly two-thirds of graduating seniors from the Class of 2013 took part in an internship or a cooperative education assignment whilst pursuing their bachelor degree.

NACE’s 2013 Student Survey found that 63.2 percent reported having taken part in an internship, co-op, or both. “This represents the highest overall participation rate since we began tracking this with the Class of 2007,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

But an internship or co-op is not the only way of gaining the edge when searching for a job. Graduating from a world-class, top-ranked university also helps, hugely in some cases – think Oxford and Cambridge in the UK or MIT and Harvard in the US. So does graduating from a university in a more ‘unusual’ part of the world, perhaps where the politics, economics, religion and culture are about as far away from the Western mainstream as it’s possible to get. There are some amazing universities in the UAE and other countries in the Persian Gulf, for example. At the very least, it’ll make for an interesting topic of conversation and perhaps give the aspiring candidate that much vaunted interview edge!

The UAE – the United Arab Emirates – is a fascinating oil-rich country with a penchant for gigantic infrastructure projects and iconic man-made structures such as the Burj Khalifa. At the moment, the Burj Khalifa, dominating the glitzy, glamorous Dubai skyline, is the tallest free-standing building in the world. The expat graduate armed with a civil engineering degree could certainly go a long way in this low-tax, high-salary city of man-made islands, five-star hotels and gigantic shopping malls.

For a number of years now, the UAE government has taken steps to diversify the economy in order to prevent over reliance on oil and gas, resources with a finite future. The universities in the UAE have played their part, too, in helping shape the changing economic landscape by providing the sorts of graduates which the business community and the rest of the country needs. Every year, they also attract thousands of students from all corners of the world, including some from the UK and the US.

The American University of Sharjah, usually referred to simply as AUS Sharjah, is one of the most popular universities in the UAE. Thousands of students from more than 80 countries attend the university which delivers education based on the American pattern of semesters and courses.

Want to find out more about NACE? Then check out the NACE website here.

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