Internship opportunities: a college to career GPS

May 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Posted in America's education system, Current events | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

by Dr. Rudy Crew USC, Advisor to internships.com

For the last decade, this country has been trying to “Leave No Child Behind.”  One premise was that the institutions charged with the care of children and young adults would operate seamlessly, and collaboratively in building skills, attitudes and values that enable successful careers.

I got the point, however subliminal.  As a former Chancellor of New York City Schools and later, Miami Dade County, I think the notion of leaving no child behind, had tremendous strategic potential.  But then there’s life and tyranny of the day to day.

The K-12 system is only loosely connected to that of junior colleges and other post-secondary institutions.  And from there, the way from college into the career or job of one’s choice is a function of luck, circumstance and as one young man once told me, a “hook up.” In truth, by contrast to other developed nations, we do a poor job of teaching the needed skills of occupational and civic literacy.  Worse yet, the path from college to a career requires a “GPS,” which very few students actually have.  Were it not for college career centers, savvy parents and big business, few students would make it into the job market at all, and even fewer from poor communities.

It was once taken as an article of faith, that college exit meant job entry.  The numbers tell a different tale.  First, 7 million jobs have left this country since 2006. Employment numbers are slow going north, and for the age group of the average college student (18-24) unemployment is still double the national average.   All this makes the case for a more explicit means by which students in this country get from college into a job—a National Internship program.  This is an investment in college age youth by small and big businesses alike.  It argues from the place where vision meets strategy– like that of other eras in our history when the marketplace was in turmoil.  The GI bill after WWII, the Civil Rights Bill both came after decades of deferred dreams for education and access to jobs–good jobs.

So now education is going to “Race to the Top.”  President Obama is right to suggest that we need to double time our pace if we intend to be competitive, globally.  But again, is it a slogan for the campaign or is there a strategy behind it?  Is there a real set of stairs from a community college in rural or urban America to a good job in the US economy?  I’ll know it’s for real when the “race” is being run with incentives for small and medium businesses to take on interns in the workplace.  It’ll be true when colleges and universities enlist their alumni associations to give an internship to the entire junior and senior class.  It will be true when career center budgets swell because of volume of demand and America’s Mayors campaign for the youth vote by harnessing themselves to youth employment. And when the skills taught in American public schools are ratcheted up to bear some relationship to skills needed to join a college, or vocation—for all students.

So much to do; so little time to win this race.  Your thoughts please; just no slogans.

1 Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Excellent thoughts and an idea that is long overdue. If there had already been a national effort/incentive to promote internships, it’s likely we could have have ridden out the depressed economy better than we have by maintaining many essential services using interns. Here’s why interns can make a positive difference:
    1. Interns are motivated to learn and can pick up essential skills quickly in most environments
    2. They come “cheap” but usually provide a strong return on the investment.
    3. Internships can be a convenient way to screen for potential employees. This not only saves time but also reduces the expense of making a bad hiring choice. There’s no better recommendation than observing a person while they are on the job.
    4. Competitive internship are good for everyone. When students realize the value of internships, they will work harder on their qualifications.
    5. Internship experiences yield more informed employees. On-the-job experience can provide clarity about one’s career direction. Workers who are more informed about their career/job preferences and skills make better employees in the long run.

    These are just few of the reasons that internships make good sense.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com. | The Pool Theme.
Entries and comments feeds.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: