Tracking national trends in internships

April 12, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Advising interns | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Internships are a hot topic. Articles about internships appear daily around the world in newspapers, online publications, and blogs. Campus chat and dinner table talk often revolve around internships—where they are, who has them, how to get one, etc. Whether a person is an undergraduate, graduate student, or unemployed, internships are the lifeline to full-time employment. As a busy career professional, you have little time to keep updated, but it might be helpful to evaluate the following trends for your program:

  • Post-internship positionsCompanies are developing new programs to stay in touch with their interns. NASA has selected 100 of their “high-performing interns” to be inducted into the 2012 NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community. The Student Ambassadors program is part of NASA’s effort to encourage learning and education in their related fields. Referring to these fields of study as STEM (or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), NASA also provides research, teaching, and training tools for educators on their website. The agency also provides internship opportunities and scholarships for interested students. Each group of selected interns to participate in this virtual community is called a “CPohort”. As this most recent group to be selected will be the fourth in the program’s history, they will be known as “Cohort IV” and will be comprised of students from 34 states and 73 universities in the United States.
  • Internship competitionThe competition is getting tougher, says an article in the Kansas City Star. According to recent news reports, some employers have gotten rid of unpaid internships this year or have converted them to paid programs and are hiring fewer summer employees because they fear lawsuits regarding compensation. You can interpret that as good news because you’re more likely to be paid this summer if you land an internship. It’s also good news that employers have been put on notice that they can’t take advantage of free labor. But it puts the summertime squeeze on many students who will find fewer training positions available. As a result, they’ll lose out on entry-level workplace experience that could lead to full-time advancement. The controversy stems in part from a handful of lawsuits that have been filed over the past year by unpaid interns who alleged they were taken advantage of and should have been paid for their work. Unpaid internships became much more prevalent during the recession as companies sought to control salary and benefit costs by hiring a ready, willing and able pool of unpaid students seeking to build resumes. There are about 1.5 million interns hired every year, and more than half are unpaid positions, according to a USA Today story.
  • Internship CoalitionsAn adjunct professor at Northeastern University notes how Boston groups are helping students find internships, co-ops, and jobs. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are hosting a gathering of business and academic leaders to discuss the benefits and best practices of student internships. The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce also is offering Chamber Intern Connect to connect area employers with college students throughout the region. No matter the specific internship, industry, or paid vs. unpaid opportunity, Chamber members post summer internships to a high-traffic database as well as the Commonwealth’s statewide Mass Stay Here internship site. The Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), led by BWP Connector Debi Kleiman, offers student opportunities throughout the year. With a similar mission the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC)’s Education Foundation has launched the MassTLC Internship Network as the go-to source for tech sector internships in Massachusetts.
  • Internship-Partnership InnovationsBusiness Wire reports on a new trend of two companies joining together to offer one super-charged internship experience. Bayer MaterialScience LLC and the Pittsburgh Penguins today announced the first dual-internship program associated with the two iconic Pittsburgh names. Both Bayer and the Penguins currently have independent internship programs; however, the two Pittsburgh-based organizations have decided to team up and offer a dynamic internship experience to college students in the region. The six-month internship, focused on new media, will have the student assisting the Penguins’ Director of New Media, from June to August and then working with the social media team lead at Bayer MaterialScience LLC, from September to November. This type of internship is appropriate for college students pursuing a degree in Multimedia, Communications, Marketing, Interactive Design or a related discipline. Through innovative thinking, Bayer MaterialScience LLC and the Penguins have created a collaborative model for other organizations to give college students an opportunity to expand their experiences as they begin their careers.


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