Why internships, why now?

Internships are increasingly a normal part of college student life. Job recruiters now look for two or three internships on journalism students' resumes, according to Charles Harris, director of the Knight Division for scholarships, career services and multicultural affairs at the University of Florida.

"I feel if a student is really, genuinely interested in getting a career in the field, an internship is a must," said Harris.

According to Harris, the benefits of internships are twofold. They allow students to clearly focus on what they want to do after graduation and find a niche. They also allow employers to "test run" you, allowing you a chance to make contacts in your field.

Hear more of what Harris has to say here, including an example of a student's internship being a major stepping stone to employment.

Internships: a growing field

Despite the sluggish economy, internship openings have been growing the past few years. In 2008, 50 percent of graduating college students had internships, an increase of more than 30 percent from 1992 statistics, according to the New York Times.

There has been some controversy in recent years over unpaid internships. While students may be taking advantage of these internships due to the lack of real jobs, employers may be taking advantage of their free labor. Some experts say that between 25 and 50 percent of all internships are unpaid, as stated in the same New York Times article as above. Universities are aware of the hazards of unpaid internships for students.

"Internships where students are not receiving credit or getting paid are really getting frowned on more and more," said Harris.

The bottom line: make sure your internship fits your financial situation. And check out these unpaid internship regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor.