How A Liberal Arts Education Benefits Internship Seekers

By Jack Magruder || THG Summer Intern 2018

The opportunity to intern at The Herald Group this summer is one that I relish, as it has added to my professional knowledge of working in Washington, DC and provided me with the ability to put my liberal arts education into a real-world context. Having finished my first year at Washington and Lee University, I sought an internship or summer job that would expand upon my knowledge from the politics classes I have taken. After finishing this internship at THG, I have been able to distill what I see as the greatest, and most reciprocal benefits, of a liberal arts education for an internship (and vice versa):

Variety of subject matter allows for understanding of a lot of material, exposing students to a wide variety of options for professional career & areas of academic/professional interest.

The breadth of subject matter that are part of graduation requirements is incredible. Students cannot enroll in classes at W&L in one specific field and limit themselves to those classes. Though taking classes that are outside of one’s main interests may seem tedious to some, it opens doors to opportunities that are key in developing a well-rounded student and person for a professional career.

For example, I did not have much interest in Journalism or Public Relations/Public Affairs when I began classes last year, but because of a great professor that pushed me to take her ‘Intro to Journalism’ course, I have found a new area of interest that I may pursue professionally. Exposure to a wide variety of classes, teaching styles, and subjects shapes prepared and adaptable students.

A liberal arts education presents opportunities to see what you like & what you don’t–both of which are valuable to know.

As I mentioned, the variety of subject matter inherent in a liberal arts education allows the student to experiment with many different possibilities for careers. A liberal arts college pushes students to take risks, make mistakes, find out what your areas of interest are, and perhaps most importantly: find out what you don’t. When formulating plans for the future, it is best to take internships, jobs, and classes in the widest variety of subjects in order to understand yourself better. Make the mistakes and try what interests you now, while those mistakes are still ultimately constructive.

Vice Versa: Why interning is important for a liberal arts education.

The benefits of a liberal arts education in choosing summer jobs and internship are quite clear. A wide variety of classes and subjects creates the most professionally aware student. However, the benefits are not one way; interning is also very informative and shapes the way students make decisions about choosing classes. I would argue that college classes are instrumental for a successful professional career, but internships provide actual experience in the field, rather than examples and sometimes irrelevant, but necessary coursework. In this way, internships shape the student as much, if not more, than their college courses. For this reason, I would suggest that all students take internships in any field that interests them. What you will learn is incredibly valuable.