One of the hardest things to do when picking a college is to really look at the big picture.
When considering which college to attend it is easy to only look at the face value of each school itself. Sports, campus life, reputation of a certain degree field, financial considerations and overall popularity are the types of factors that are typically considered when picking a future alma mater, and those are all good things to consider. But if you leave out one important consideration, it could really put a damper on your transition into the career world.
The most important factor you should not overlook when choosing a school is:
What will my opportunities to get internship experience look like while I am attending that particular school?
It might be the last thing on your mind, but by time you are a senior in college (if not sooner) you will be ready to get some hands-on experience in your degree field through an internship.
That is why the location of the school you choose should be a key consideration.
If your interest is marine biology, of course you would want to attend school near the coast. If you are interested in political science, attending school near a state capitol or the D.C. area would be a smart move. On the other hand, if you are going to pursue a degree in agricultural science, a school in a town of only 20 thousand people, but surrounded by a plethora of farms and ranches, would be ideal.
While attending The University of Texas at Arlington, located right in the heart of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (home to over 6 million people), I have had access to one of the biggest and strongest job markets in the country, especially for the communications field. My first internship was at an awesome advertising agency, The Balcom Agency, a twenty-minute drive from my Arlington apartment. My second internship in Dallas…only a twenty-five minute drive in the opposite direction. There are not many schools in the country that, geographically speaking, give you that much access to so many internship opportunities.
“But what if I am already attending a school in an area with limited internship opportunities?”
If possible, I would consider looking into other schools with better markets and see if you can find one that will transfer most, if not all, of your credits. If transferring isn’t a reasonable option for you due to other circumstances, I would make sure that you are branding yourself as the best candidate in your area and network, network and network some more.
Did I take into account geographic location in regards to internship opportunities play a factor in the school I chose? Nope. It was the last thing on my mind. I chose the school because they had a reputable communications department and it was close enough to home that I could see my family regularly, but far enough that my mom wouldn’t be knocking on my door everyday (Shh…Don’t tell her I said that). I just happened to get lucky that the location of the school I decided to attend didn’t put a constraint on my internship opportunities like many of my friends attending other universities.
Did the geographic location of the school you attend help or hinder your internship opportunities? Share your experience below: