Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Applying skills, gaining experience

When UW-Madison junior Caitlin Krois comes into work each morning, she sometimes has to sidestep lightsaber fights in the hall.

If she wants to get work done, she has to ignore the distraction of the rock music in the game room, where fellow employees trade licks during endless rounds of the popular video game Guitar Hero.

"I went to the bathroom today, and I almost got run over by a Razor scooter," Krois said after the second day of her internship at Google Inc.'s New York office.


Krois, a journalism major with an emphasis on strategic communication, is living the dream of many college students with a prized paid summer internship at the world's largest search engine. Google offered the position through a partnership with the Madison cancer charity Gilda's Club, UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, which auctioned off the right to underwrite the internship in its online Big Badger Auction.

Krois is just one of several UW students participating in high-profile internships this summer, including positions at CNN, Proctor & Gamble and the campaign of presidential hopeful Barack Obama. In addition, several UW students and graduates have parlayed internship experience into jobs or more internships, including positions with General Electric Co., NBC Nightly News and government offices.

"Employers definitely want to see students who have had internship experience," said Pam Garcia-Rivera, internship coordinator with UW's College of Letters and Science/School of Human Ecology Career Services.

Not only will employers know prospective workers have job experience from internships, but also that the employee has a demonstrated interest in the field, which "makes them a better employee," Garcia-Rivera said.

In an age when employers look for intern experience in potential employees, internships at big companies or well-known news organizations can bring influential contacts or extra weight to a résumé. But the most important benefit of an internship is the experience, not the name, Garcia-Rivera said.

Krois, who previously interned at a large law firm and a small marketing and events planning firm, will be compiling a morning bulletin for Google's New York staff on how the company has been in the news. She will also be "looking into creating blogs," an endeavor Google doesn't want her to talk too much about.

"Google is one of the first companies I've worked for to keep its interns very involved," she said.

Nevertheless, Krois doesn't expect her work experience at Google to make much of a difference in the long term.

"You could work for any company and get the exact same benefits," she said.

UW alumna Emily Golden, who completed internships at The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison news station NBC 15 and the highly competitive NBC Page Program in New York City, said that her internship experience in the "mecca of broadcast journalism" won't necessarily make her any more successful in the field.

Golden earned stints at Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and NBC Nightly News through the Page Program, which encourages interns to compete for two- to three-month internships at NBC shows as they look for jobs in broadcast journalism.

Golden loved the "fluid environment" of Nightly News, where she helped out on shoots, did research and ran scripts to anchor Brian Williams, but had more hands-on experience at her prior internship with NBC 15.

Neither internship has proved more valuable than the other, though, Golden said.

"Any internship is what you make it," she said.

UW senior Adam Schmidt, who completed an internship at the White House last summer, said the experience made him unique as a 21-year-old with a "series of acquaintances in government."

"Having a number of places where I can confidently send my résumé is a huge advantage," he said.

The best part of the internship wasn't the job experience, but rather the experience as a whole, he said.

"I may not have worked on a lot of substantive projects, … but I got to participate in some of the history and character that comes with the office of the presidency," he said.

In addition, working in Washington, D.C., helped him narrow his "ideas and focus about government, public service and politics," Schmidt said.

The approximately 100 students who intern at the White House each semester comprise 20 percent of the staff at any given time and serve mainly as office support, filing, copying and delivering documents.

But Schmidt also was able to help with events such as the State Arrival Ceremony that accompanies the visit of a foreign head of government, and he watched the Fourth of July fireworks from the South Lawn of the White House.

"I brought a camera to work every day, because I didn't know who I would see or what event I would be asked to help with," he said.

Not all large organizations relegate interns to helping out with small tasks, however. UW-Madison alumnus Eli Gratz said he was treated like a full employee during his two summer internships at GE Healthcare in Wauwatosa.

"It was pretty cool to work at a Fortune 10 company and get to be a full member of the team quickly," he said of his paid internship last summer in the company's Information Technology department. "Nowhere in my work e-mails … did it say 'intern'."

Internships at both small and large companies will help you get a job, Gratz said.

"The only benefit to having exposure at a big company is if you want to work at a company like that," he said.

It worked for Gratz, who started a job in GE's Information Management Leadership Program Monday.

Krois said Google helps interns find employment, but she doesn't know if she'll land a job at the company.

Hopefully, her employers won't just look at her Guitar Hero skills.

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