The fact that this time of year is as stressful as taking a mid-life walk through the woods with Dante need not even be said. Particularly, the graduating folks whom we must say goodbye to are under much duress in terms of what is to come: graduate school? Jobs? Becoming a professional dweller of parental basements?
The difficulty with such decisions nowadays lies in the worrisome truth that having a bachelor’s degree tends to be “the new highs school diploma.” As proud of having earned your degree as you should be, it simply is not enough to guarantee a job anymore. The two options at the end of the road seem to most often be that either you’ve gotten enough experience and you’re all set, or you’d better prepare for eons of more schooling.
What we all ought to be asking is, “Am I doing enough?” Saint Anselm provides a great number of opportunities for volunteer work, which is certainly more than useful beyond simply getting a job after graduation. However, as “nice” as volunteer work is (and goodness is it!), having solid experience from internships is what is becoming more and more necessary. While some colleges have academic requirements for their undergraduate students to go through two or three different internships, St. A’s almost seems to fall behind on this matter.
Having internship requirements insinuates at least two strong components necessary to guaranteeing jobs after graduation—one is that the professors and advisors have genuine interest and experience in assisting students transition into careers, and the other is that students will have a much clearer understanding of exactly which career path he or she wishes to take after experiencing one or two different possibilities firsthand.
Granted, such colleges are not so grounded in a liberal arts education. Offering relevant internships to English or History majors, for example, is not as obvious or simple as locating ones for, let’s say, a Psychology major. The “issue” arises in the fact that a liberal arts degree does not confine you to one particular path—an English major may go on into journalism, teaching, technical writing, the arts, etc., which is much broader than saying that a Psychology major may specialize in helping a certain age group of patients.
Therefore, the most important aspect, regardless of your major, is finding out your personal skills and taking up different activities which will help them flourish. Following this, you must take up the great wizard Gandalf’s advice: “The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” As important as our liberal arts education is, if we do not learn to apply it through internships, volunteer work, etc. it is meaningless. Sure, St. A’s may not go out of its way to demand even more requirements of us by stating that we must take internships, but the career services folks are more than happy to help—really, they are; go pay them a visit.
Do not be confined by your major—know your talents, and put them to use in a manner that links back to your major by interning or doing similar volunteer work, but don’t just sit there studying thinking that that’s good enough. The reality is that competition for all sorts of jobs is increasing, and it seems fair (and good in itself) to say that garnering experience beforehand while doing undergraduate work would assist in this quest.
If nothing else, St. A’s perhaps could push more for internship opportunities (which are understandably fewer than those of colleges located in large cities). However, because of how much volunteer work the students here partake in, internships are seemingly unnecessary to some extent. The question of course is, for how long will this continue to be the case, and if or when it is not, will the college (or any college) be able to offer assistance to its undergrads, or will they be forced to seek further education by default? The answer is and, I predict, will remain the same: the amount of schooling you have matters very little (unless you wish to become a surgeon or something in which case we all beg you to take more classes)—the importance lies in the real-world application you as an individual have, not in the generic textbook information you absorbed alongside 500 other people.