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COLLEGE CONNECTION: Elon Musk inspired by internships

Students who want to follow in the footsteps of Elon Musk would do best to seek out an internship. Elon Musk actually did three internships on the early steps of his road to success, first gaining experience with a summer internship at Bank of Nova Scotia and later doubling up with a daytime internship at Pinnacle Research Institute and a nighttime one at Rocket Science Games.

To this day, interning within your preferred industry is considered to be one of the most important things a student can do. According to a 2018 Job Outlook survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), it’s often more important than your college major or GPA.

New Jersey colleges are well aware of the importance of internships and most work hard to provide students with such opportunities. The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) reports that nearly 80 percent of its business students complete at least one internship or cooperative experience (paid, for credit work temporarily replacing classes) during their college days. The college attributes this, in part, to the reason that more than half of its business students have one or more job offers in hand by the time they graduate. The companies with which TCNJ students launch their careers include: Bloomberg L.P., Citibank, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, Madison Square Garden, Target, Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) Morgan Stanley, NBC Universal, Tiffany & Co. and Trenton Thunder.

Of course, TCNJ is not the only college that recognizes the importance of internships. According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, the average proportion of graduating seniors nationwide with internship experience hovers around 42 percent. But the numbers vary dramatically among colleges. Some schools reported more than 95 percent of graduating seniors had internship experience; some reported less than five percent did.

Internship experiences bridge the gap between the academic and professional worlds, making it easier for students to transition from college life into a career. According to Internships.com, seven out of ten internships result in a full time job offer. Thus, the availability of internships should be a key criterion that college-bound students take into consideration when identifying their college of choice.

College Board recognizes the importance of internships even for high school students and offers links to help students find their perfect match. To search by employer, field, date and location go to Internshipprograms.com, for opportunities in different countries search GoAbroad.com, and for internship opportunities at nonprofits go to Idealist.org.

Susan Alaimo is the founder and director of SAT Smart in Hillsborough that has been offering PSAT, SAT, and ACT preparation courses, as well as private tutoring by Ivy League educated instructors, for more than 25 years. Visit www.SATsmart.com or call 908-369-5362.

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