Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Thursday, September 06, 2018

Internships: A Beneficial Endeavor

by Jessica Minneci

If you are blind or visually impaired like me, the thought of obtaining an internship might feel overwhelming. Questions that swam through my head included: "Will they have the assistive technology I need? Will my boss be willing to adapt things for me, like converting PDFs into word documents? Will I do well at the tasks assigned to me? Will my co-workers like me?" All of these questions could run through your head when you are deciding if you want to do an internship. I hope insight from my experiences as an intern at American Printing House for the Blind will assist others by shedding light on the advantages and disadvantages of being an intern. 
A quick Google search reveals some of the disadvantages of an internship. Many don't pay and you may be assigned to work odd hours or given menial tasks. If you want the internship to count toward your college credits, you still have to pay the college for those credits: so you could end up losing money. Also, if people are not careful and do not negotiate the longevity of their internship, they could end up being an intern indefinitely, thereby keeping them from moving up the company ladder into the role of a full-time employee. Thankfully, I did not have these experiences.
Despite a few disadvantages, interning for a company has a plethora of advantages. The most obvious benefit of working as an intern is adding work experience to your resume. If an internship is in your field of study, you will be more marketable. Additionally, these short-term internships provide real work experience. You adjust to an 8 hour schedule, learn to dress professionally, and improve your communication skills. As a communication intern at APH, I got a taste of my chosen field. I learned about aspects of communication that I enjoy doing, such as social media. I utilized skills that I learned in college, such as target audience awareness, and to craft blog posts. My internship allowed me to apply what I knew to a real work environment.

Photo of Jessica outside reading braille at table. Taken during her internship at APH.
Jessica outside reading braille at table. Taken during her internship at APH.
New skills can also be acquired through interning for a company. For example, I learned how to use my screen reading software to use Microsoft outlook and set up meetings. Another benefit to interning is representing the company at different events. While attending the American Council for the Blind convention in St. Louis, I was able to show off my skills as an intern with APH by conducting an event for students. Through an internship, you can also build a network of contacts and learn about other jobs or fields within that company. For example, I was taken under the wing of APH's director of sales and sold some products in St. Louis.
At the end of most internships, students receive professional evaluations from their bosses. This feedback can assist you as you learn about your strengths and weaknesses as a worker. The employer may be impressed with you and offer you a full-time position at the company after the conclusion of your internship. If the employer does not extend an offer, that is okay, too. Either way, you’re going to leave the internship more confident in your working capabilities. You are now given the opportunity to choose whether the field you interned in is right for you.

An internship is a great way for you to get your foot in the door and try your hand at your chosen field. Fortunately, the few disadvantages of working as an intern do not outweigh the advantages. I believe that it is in every student's best interest to give an internship a shot.

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