Dear Black Couch,
This is my last year at OBU, and next year I will be attending graduate school here as well.
I currently have a part-time job that is not related to the field I am going into.
My current job is very flexible, pays well and has an enjoyable atmosphere.
However, many people have told me that once I start graduate school, I should find an internship that will give me experience in the career field that I am pursuing. I do need more experience, but I am worried that I won’t be able to find an internship that pays as well as my current job.
Should I keep my good-paying job that will support me throughout graduate school that won’t ever give me the experience I need, or should I look for an internship that will give me valuable experience but not necessarily provide the financial stability that I need?
Signed, The Un-Graduate
That is a great question.
May I ask why you can’t find an internship NOW and take it as a class toward your degree?
For example, I know in my major we require division electives and general electives.
Students then find a professional internship in the area of choice, arrange the internship details with a supervisor guaranteeing at least 96 hours of quality work (or more; it is based on the number of credit hours wanted) and then they enroll in the internship class through OBU.
This allows them to get college credit in the area of division electives (or general) while also getting real-world professional experience.
It doesn’t detract from your schedule either because you simply spend the time you would normally spend attending class and completing homework on the internship.
That way you can still keep the job because this would just be part of your regular college load, AND you get the experience you need right now.
That would be my first suggestion: take advantage of everything the university has to offer.
Why not chat with your advisor to see if this would work for you?
Your other options are this: see if you can take an internship for graduate credit so the same theory applies in graduate school, find an internship that will allow you to work your way through school while attending class and completing an internship, keeping the part-time job and future grad load and just complete an internship during summer or an intersession or quitting the job and just jumping into the field with both feet.
However, you did say you need the job to pay for school, so this becomes a bit of a catch-22.
I would recommend keeping the job as long as you can, simply because it pays the bills.
Even if you have to have one stressful semester doing it all (class, internship, job), you still walk away with industry experience and a stable paycheck.
I think you can handle anything for a semester.
The only way you can afford to quit your job (financially and other) completely is if you talk to your employer, ask for a semester break, find someone to support you during that semester and tackle it that way.
Keep in mind, I am answering a very practical question with limited data (i.e. I don’t know the area, the availability of internships, the severity of the work load, your extended financial situation, etc), so I may be omitting some crucial facets.
Why don’t you first see what your options are? Can you find an internship as an undergrad, use one as grad credit, take one during intersession, find a paid one, get a ‘sabbatical’ from current job, etc.?
Once you have that data, options may begin to crystalize.