When LSA senior Melissa Muslin attended the University’s job fair in October of 2006, she never expected an internship would lead to a career with clothing company American Eagle Outfitters.

Muslin is a biological psychology concentrator, but she was curious about business merchandising, and so she interviewed with an American Eagle recruiter and landed a 10-week summer internship at the company’s central office in Pittsburgh.

At the end of the summer, Muslin received an offer for an assistant buyer position, which she said she plans to take after graduating in April.

“Personally, I thought it was a great experience,” Muslin said. “If you have a more liberal major, internships are a great way to narrow down your career field. Plus, my senior year is a little less stressful now that I have a job waiting for me.”

Internships are often a way for students like Muslin to answer that tricky question of what to do with a liberal arts degree. While certain high-profile internships are near unattainable, intern positions in every job field offer a chance to try out a career before graduation.

Gaining work experience allows students to figure out what they do and don’t want out of a job before entering the work force, said Geni Harclerode, the internships and experiential learning services coordinator at the University’s Career Center.

Even nightmare internships benefit students by making them wiser about the working world, she said.

Harclerode said students should be aware that many internships aren’t formatted as a traditional Monday through Friday commitment.

“It’s important to be creative in how you define an internship,” she said.

Students who can’t afford to forgo work all summer in place of an internship may be able to negotiate with employers, she said.

Some organizations, including government agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, pay interns as well as the average summer job.

Harclerode said employers are putting increasing emphasis on internships, both in creating new opportunities and looking for interning experience in applicants.

“In recent years, companies have placed importance on recruiting students because it’s a way to find possible future employees,” she said. “I’ve seen an increasing importance placed on internships and marketing that experience to students.”

Paul Smith, a senior staffing associate for Ohio and Michigan with Eli Lilly and Company, a pharmaceutical corporation, said internship experience is crucial for job seekers.

“Internships show initiative to get out of the classroom and use transferable skills in the real world,” he said. “I look at resum

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