As deadlines for summer funding approach, something looms in the backs of students’ minds: internships. These brushes with the professional world are considered a quintessential part of the college experience, providing a firsthand look at a potential career path.
Some look to the prospect with nervous excitement for their already-secured positions. Some continue the search with growing anxiety. Others decide to focus their energies elsewhere, like academics or resting.
For freshmen, one question is how to secure a first internship with no previous experience. On the other hand, upperclassmen have branched out from unpaid internships to looking for paid positions. On-campus opportunities can provide stepping stones to other opportunities for freshmen. NYU Abu Dhabi is willing to aid its students in increasing their chances for future opportunities An on-campus internship means no commuting time and a familiar working environment. Some freshmen have taken advantage of these opportunities, starting as early as their first semester.
Moreover, the Career Development Center has added one more incentive for students to intern on campus: compensation. While students browse through CareerNet opportunities, questions have arise as to why some internships on campus are paid and some are not.
CDC Director Hazel Raja has clarified that these paid positions are not actually internships, but rather student assistantships. NYUAD cannot pay interns by policy, so these assistantships are classified as NYUAD Part-Time on NYUAD CareerNet.
Student assistantships have been offered since only last semester, causing confusion between these positions and internships. These were mainly offered by the Athletics department, the CDC and the Dean of Students. Unlike internships, assistantships do not have an aim in training or developing individuals, and there is a limit to how many hours can be worked per week depending on grade level.
Senior Ádám Fejes is a student assistant at the CDC. Having worked at more than five previous internships in diverse fields, such as research and NGOs, Fejes commented that his current position allowed him to do more hands-on work beyond simply observing.
Fejes encouraged students to be more active on CareerNet, as he found most of his positions there. It is also a good idea to take classes in potential internship fields if possible.
“Do as many things as you can, try everything out, enjoy what you do and also figure out what you do not enjoy doing,” Fejes added.
As a group of regularly well-travelled students living on an island, the questions for NYUAD students must be narrowed down further: how does being an international student in the UAE affect chances of employment and payment locally? Back home? Internationally?
Even with a couple internships under their belts, upperclassmen have not stopped looking for opportunities. Junior Eszter Mészáros has worked unpaid research assistant positions at Harvard University and Central European University.
“With a paid internship, I think companies will take you more seriously in the future,” Eszter said. In her experience, it was relatively easier to get ahold of an internship by directly reaching out to researchers from her course materials, rather than by filling out an official application for a publicized internship.
She commented that some researchers have welcomed this kind of outreach and were very kind, even if they declined her offer to help.
However, looking for a part-time job in Abu Dhabi is a different story, according to Mészáros. Employers often neglect applications and are vague in replying; opportunities themselves are hard to find. Challenges arise given the short timeframes students often work with, whether they be restricted by daily schedules or larger study abroad plans.
There have also been comments among the student body that networking events hosted by the CDC seem to gravitate towards certain fields such as IT, management and business. The events themselves are also easy to miss for students with back-to-back classes.
Though some challenges are present in finding internship opportunities, considering the unique environment and situation NYUAD students live in, it seems as though these obstacles can be managed by taking first steps through on-campus internships and actively initiating contact with potential employers and researchers.
Tina Kim is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.