Flocking to unpaid internships

May 22, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

April’s job growth was less than economists had been predicting. The nation’s employers produced a net gain of 115,000 positions, after adding 154,000 in March, according to the Labor Department. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.1 percent in April, from 8.2 percent. That may sound like good news, but the decline was not because more unemployed workers were hired; it was entirely because 342,000 workers dropped out of the labor force. The share of working-age Americans who are in the labor force — either working or actively looking for a job — is now at its lowest level since 1981, when far fewer women were doing paid work. Government job losses, which totaled 15,000 in April, continued to weigh on the economy, tugging down job growth as local governments grapple with strained budgets. Many college graduates—as well as undergraduates–are flocking to unpaid internships to get a foot in an employer’s door. Excerpts from the following New York Times article explore their choices:

  • While unpaid postcollege internships have long existed in the film and nonprofit worlds, they have recently spread to fashion houses, book and magazine publishers, marketing companies, public relations firms, art galleries, talent agencies — even to some law firms. Ross Perlin, author of the 2011 book “Intern Nation,” said postcollege internships used to be confined to a few fields like film but have become far more common. “The people in charge in many industries were once interns and they’ve come of age, and to them unpaid internships are completely normal and they think of having interns in every way, shape and form,” he said.
  • No one keeps statistics on the number of college graduates taking unpaid internships, but there is widespread agreement that the number has significantly increased, not least because the jobless rate for college graduates age 24 and under has risen to 9.4 percent, the highest level since the government began keeping records in 1985. “A few years ago you hardly heard about college graduates taking unpaid internships,” said Ross Eisenbrey, a vice president at the Economic Policy Institute who has done several studies on interns. “But now I’ve even heard of people taking unpaid internships after graduating from Ivy League schools.”
  • Melissa Reyes, who graduated from Marist College with a degree in fashion merchandising last May, applied for a dozen jobs to no avail. She was thrilled, however, to land an internship with the Diane von Furstenberg fashion house in Manhattan. “They talked about what an excellent, educational internship program this would be,” she said. But Ms. Reyes soon soured on the experience. She often worked 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., five days a week. “They had me running out to buy them lunch,” she said. “They had me cleaning out the closets, emptying out the past season’s items.” Asked about her complaints, the fashion firm said, “We are very proud of our internship program, and we take all concerns of this kind very seriously.”
  • Some interns say their experiences were quite helpful. Emily Miethner, a fine arts major at Hofstra, took an unpaid position at Gawker after graduating in 2010, doing research and social media for the news and gossip site. After two months, she moved to an unpaid internship at Flavorpill, an online cultural guide. The knowledge she gained at those places, she said, was crucial to her landing a $35,000-a-year job as social media coordinator at Sterling Publishing. “More than just the individual tasks that I did, it was being in a great company culture and meeting a lot of people,” she said, noting that she was able to work without pay partly because she stayed at the home of her boyfriend’s parents.

Understanding how new technology sorts resumes

February 23, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 Comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

The Wall Street Journal recently had 2 articles in the Marketplace section on how companies manage the huge volume of resumes sent to them.  Google Inc., which hired about 7,000 people in 2011 after receiving some 2 million resumes, says the resumes were individually read by hundreds of recruiters. However, the major trend is utilizing technology systems to sift through applications and resumes for both internships and permanent employment.

Here’s what you and your students could expect in the future at more and more companies:

  • Technology systems:  The new applicant-tracking systems to search resumes for the right skills and experience cost from $5,000 to millions of dollars. One expert from IBM puts the proportion of large companies using them in the high 90% range, saying “it would be very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one.”  The systems screen out about half of all resumes, according to a management professor in California. Both Starbucks Corp. and Procter and Gamble use the system to handle the deluge. Starbucks Corp. attracted 7.6 million job applications in the past 12 months for 65,000 openings. Procter and Gamble Inc. got nearly a million applications in 2011 for 2,000 positions.
  • How they work:  Today’s systems are programmed to scan for keywords, former employers, years of experience and schools attended to identify candidates of likely interest. Then, they rank the applicants. Those with low scores generally don’t make it to the next round. The screening systems cut the cost of hiring a new employee, which now averages $3,479. But tracking software has its pitfalls. It may miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn’t game the system by larding his or her resume with keywords from the job description. Experts say that the best method of getting a job still remains a referral from a company employee.
  • Company practices:  A restaurant operator with 350 locations, Texas Roadhouse plans to adopt a tracking system this year to handle the flow of applications for hourly jobs. The company gets as many as 400 resumes for a job opening within 24 hours after listing it online. The company used to hand-write a postcard to every applicant, but now the company sends an automated email. Allowing applicants to check the status of their resumes online is another major trend. At PNC Financial Services Group, which has used tracking software for 15 years, an applicant for a bank-teller job is filtered out if his resume doesn’t indicate that he has 2 to 3 years of cash-handling experience. PNC email rejected applicants within a day, suggesting they search its website for jobs for which they are better qualified.

Finding paid internships for your students

December 20, 2011 at 8:07 am | Posted in Finding internships, Job market | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

As the recession drags on, more and more financially strapped students want and need to have paid internships. Fortunately, more and more organizations are finding funds to pay interns. Although the compensation might be small, a paid internship boosts student morale as well as income.

The following tips offer new directions for paid internships:

  • Sponsorships at nonprofits:  Traditionally, nonprofit organizations have not offered many paid internships. But that’s changing. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, has received support from the Tucker Foundation since 1997, funding between 3 and 5 interns each year. Summerfield Johnston, whose family operates the Tucker Foundation, believes the fund supports work that benefits both the institution and the intern. Through their research, programming, writing, and other activities, the interns’ work benefits not only the museum, but each student’s life work as well. When exploring paid internships in nonprofit organizations, look for sponsorships that fund internships.
  • Paid internships with low number of applicants:  If students haven’t selected a major, you might guide them into fields where internships are paid, and they can sample potential concentrations based on their qualifications. Cal State Fullerton’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and concentrations in the College of Business and Economics have a large number of paid internships that are available and a low number of applicants. These  areas of study have a low number of applicants because they do not require students to complete an internship to graduate. There are currently 22 interns in engineering, three in accounting and four in finance. Engineering, accounting and finance seem to have the highest paying internships.
  • International internship sites:  With a shortage of experienced IT workers in New Zealand and the competition to recruit them increasing, Sky City Entertainment Group is hoping its new internship program will help it secure young IT talent while providing interns with much needed real world experience. The internship will involve a year-long, paid position in the Sky City IT team, with candidates being provided internal and external training in system management, system support and delivery, and systems integration. Sky City has 5 locations across Australia and New Zealand. Employment by Sky City at the end of the internship is not guaranteed, but the work experience will benefit the interns in securing IT jobs in the future.

Internships.com search:  There are now over 56,000 internships in nearly 30,000 companies in 7,500 cities listed on the site. Instruct your students to enter Paid under Compensation when searching for an internship and see what comes up. For example, InfoScroll in New Jersey offers 18 part-time, paid entry level Account Manager Internships with Residual Income. This virtual internship requires fewer than 10 hours per week. Interns assist in setting up local restaurants and other businesses with Free Advertising on InfoScroll. In Redmond, Washington, a paid Journalism Intern will perform multiple tasks for a condominium association, including writing a monthly newsletter that goes out to 770 homeowners.  Tell your students that the word is out:  Paid is in.

Taking advantage of international internships

December 5, 2011 at 8:30 am | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

American campuses are desirable places, according to the cover story in the Education section of a recent New York Times, especially to the Chinese. The number of Chinese undergraduates in the U.S. has tripled in the past three years to 40,000.  One Chinese student chose to attend the University of Delaware 7,000 miles from home.  Meanwhile, more and more American students are leaving campus and heading to foreign countries for internships. Why not utilize the offerings at your campus to find internships abroad for your students?

Here’s how some campuses are helping American students go 7,000 miles from home for global opportunities:

  • University of Missouri:   Highlights for China Internships Summer 2012 include work in a Chinese or international company. Live and work in dynamic and exciting Chinese cities (Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Shanghai, or Chongqing). Possibility to earn one-to-three credit hours from your internship. Open to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Dartmouth:  Since 2005, eight of the 21 Dartmouth alumni who interned at the American University in Kuwait (AUK) through the Dartmouth College-American University of Kuwait Project have received national fellowships and post-graduate scholarships to study Arab culture, media and linguistics in North Africa and the Middle East. Internships at AUK are 10 weeks long and are offered during Fall and Spring terms.
  • Syracuse University Florence (SUF) Founded in 1959 and one of the oldest study abroad programs in Italy, SUF has been consistently ranked as one of the best American study abroad programs, providing distinguished academic curricula, combined with an outstanding support for cultural immersion. The SUF faculty members are internationally renowned scholars, and the staff is dedicated to meeting the needs of today’s students and helping them immerse themselves in the Italian culture.
  • Lehigh University:  The Lee Iacocca International Internship program offers individual corporate, non-profit, and civic internships. Expenses paid, including travel, accommodations, and stipend for meals in-country. Examples of Summer 2012 internships are Pestana Hotels & Resorts, Portugal – Marketing & Tourism;  Bracalente Manufacturing Group, China – Project Engineer Intern; VIVA Group, India – Construction Process Analyst Intern; Yerzhan Tatishev Foundation, Kazakhstan – Alumni Program Intern.
  • Internships.com:  Recommend that your students go to Internships.com and browse through hundreds of international internships. The site also gives helpful information to students, such as long- and short-term benefits, language requirements, resources, and help with applications. The deadlines for international Summer 2012 internships are fast approaching, so explore new global opportunities with your students.

Helping students who are vets get internships and jobs

November 1, 2011 at 8:52 am | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

A growing number of college students have military service backgrounds and need career advice. Among vets ages 18-24, unemployment is at a staggering 26.8%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s about three times the general unemployment rate, which is still hovering at 9.1%. To help combat the problem, the Labor Department has just issued 22 grants, totaling $9 million to various states to help with workforce development. The fall issue of USAA magazine suggests several ways that you as a career services professional can help the vets on your campus:

  • Educate employers:  Remind your employers about the benefits of taking interns or hiring employees with service backgrounds. These men and women offer discipline and commitment and a willingness to accept training and follow direction. They bring value to the work place and are good role models for other interns or employees. Many of their  skills are transferable to the civilian lifestyle. Most of the employers that you work with are simply unable to relate to the experiences of service members, so it’s up to you to help bridge the communication gap, making them feel more comfortable around vets.
  • Educate vets:  Students who are vets need additional training and guidance before they write their resumes and apply for internships or jobs. First, they have to translate their military experiences into civilian language. For example, instead of using the word “reconnaissance” on a resume, select “survey, analysis, or data collection.” Instead of saying “reassemble a rifle in a minute,” try “expertise in mechanics.” Advise your students not to talk about battles or shooting or wartime experiences, but to offer stamina or ability to work long hours. Since vets turned students often lack confidence, you might name some former vets who have found great success, such as Bob McDonald, CEO, Procter & Gamble.

Identify most veteran-friendly employers:  Visit civilianjobs.com/mve.htm for the best list of potential employers. For example, ManTech International, national security, hired over 4,000 employees in 2010, and 50% were military. Also, Amazon, online retailer, has built a military talent program, including a team of dedicated military recruiters. Follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/militarytalent. USAA, financial services, reports that 20% of its 22,000+ employees are former military. Other companies range from DaVita with healthcare to Chesapeake Energy Corp. with energy. And emphasize the power of social networking. Suggest that your former vets tap into groups on LinkedIn that are military specific. Many vets take special pride in helping other vets.

Reminding students that Career Fairs are about the Employer, not the Student

October 4, 2011 at 8:10 am | Posted in Finding internships | 1 Comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

It’s Career Fair time again. More than 130 employers will attend the University of Iowa’s Fall Job and Internship Fair, hosting local, national and international organizations such as IBM, Eli Lilly & Co., Go Daddy, Pearson, Coyote Logistics, John Deere, Von Maur, PepsiCo, and more. The University of Wisconsin Career Conference highlights the career focus of UW-Stout’s academic programs and is hosted by Career Services. About 2,000-3,000 students attend, looking for internships, Cooperative Education opportunities, and jobs.

It’s also time to remind your students how to make a good impression at a first face-to-face meeting:

  • Shifting dynamics:  In the past two years, the role of the intern has shifted dramatically. The employer mindset has gone from viewing the internship as a form of corporate community service to a method for accessing free or low-paid labor as well as future employees. In a tough economy employers are trying to make their dollars go further and their people produce more. Instead of approaching internships as an opportunity to learn about a profession or industry, students will need to focus on pursuing an internship that helps them contribute their skills in a way that generates value and substance for employers. The student who is committed to helping them get more for their money and do more with less is the one who gets the offer.
  • Coaching:  What should students say when they’re asked by a prospective internship supervisor, “Why do you want this internship?” Caution your students not to talk about how this is a great opportunity for them to learn about the industry and profession. What’s important to the employer is their ability to take initiative and produce quality work as a member of the team. The above question is the perfect opening for the student to talk about the skills that would bring value to the company. For example, if the company wants a marketing intern, the student could discuss his/her experience on a class marketing project or previous summer job.
  • Preparation:  Remind your students to take resumes and samples of work with them to the Career Fair. They might even take resumes that are customized for specific companies or for specific fields. Thanks to Google, it’s easy to access company Web sites. Students should be knowledgeable on a company’s mission as well as career tracks. In many cases, students might want to be proactive if they find the company that interests them and ask if they could come for an interview. If there aren’t any openings, a student could ask for an informational interview, which is another way to demonstrate a sincere interest.

Directing students to fall virtual internships

September 6, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Posted in Advising interns, Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Many students are feeling the economic crunch and are working part-time to cover college costs. They worry about how they’ll be able to take fall internships with such a busy schedule. Other students, especially seniors, are concerned over getting a job upon graduation and want to take more internships this fall to add value to their academic degrees.  There are also students at rural schools located far from many businesses, who want internships.  The answer for all of them?

  • Virtual internships:  Virtual internships, which can be undertaken from anywhere with a broadband Internet connection, enable students to sample different fields while still going to classes and working. The most common virtual internships are in information technology, software development, research, sales, marketing, blogging, and social media. Companies want self-reliant, self-starters who are comfortable with web conferences, emails, and phone calls.
  • Questions students should ask:  How much mentoring and feedback will I receive? Who is my key point of contact and how often do we make contact? What is the type of work and what are the expectations? Will I receive payment or college credit?  Will I get a letter of reference? How many hours a week are involved and for how long a period? Could I view the work of former virtual interns? You might want to direct students to read Eye of the Intern blog (July 13) on Internships.com to learn about the virtual internship experience of Jacinda Green, an incoming senior at University of Alabama.
  • Pros and cons:  The positive benefits usually outweigh the negatives. Students can work remotely at their own pace at any location, ranging from dorm room, to home, to local coffee shop. If the project poses too many challenges, they can seek help on campus in figuring out the problem. They don’t have to worry about transportation costs or wardrobe expenses. The downside of virtual internships is that student interns rarely meet their boss or colleagues, reducing networking opportunities. However, since more and more full-time employees or consultants work remotely, a successful virtual internship experience might be an excellent way to illustrate the ability to work independently.
  • Growing volume of opportunities:  If you go to Internships.com, click on Internships search, type in Marketing, and check Virtual, you’ll find over 2,000 virtual marketing internships. Here are 2 examples:  Inshelf.com is looking for a qualified intern to join our marketing/advertising team. Our marketing department produces quality work for our company based out of the New York/New Jersey area, and seeks an intern who can participate in various stages of print and online marketing campaigns. Unpaid but with college credit. As a 1stGiG marketing intern, you will have the opportunity to create a customized marketing plan for your campus, while developing crucial leadership skills in an energetic and entrepreneurial environment. You will have the freedom to develop your own marketing plan, with support from 1stGiG.com! Part time and paid. This is just a tiny sample of what’s available in the booming field of virtual internships.

Where your students can find last-minute summer internships

May 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Finding internships | Leave a comment
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Susan Sandberg

Career Centers nationwide are experiencing increased demand for summer internships from undergraduate and graduate students as well as new graduates who don’t have jobs and want internships as stepping stones. Here are some suggestions for your students on finding last-minute summer internships:

  • Internships.com The site lists 41,400 internships from nearly 20,000 companies available worldwide. Students can benefit from Internship Seeker 2.0, an iPhone app that provides mobile access to thousands of available internship listings on internships.com. Your students can download this FREE app to search internships while on the go. They can search by keyword or location, view detailed descriptions or share listings. New features include the ability to save and manage searches, bookmarks and a student’s internships.com account.
  • LinkedIn:  Students can use their LinkedIn connections to help shorten the search process and quickly obtain summer internships. Once your students find an internship program that interests them, they can do a “people search” and check if a hiring manager or HR staff members of that company are on LinkedIn. The goal is to have a mutual connection with the “insider” of the company, so students can even ask him/her for an introduction to the intern manager rather than having to do the often frustrating and fruitless “cold calling.”
  • Internship Mini-Fair:  If you have time (or have interns working in your office), you may want to hold an informal Internship Mini-Fair for students who have not gotten a summer internship and still want one. You’ll earn points with your students for your efforts and impress potential internship managers, too. Invite local businesses or campus departments to attend, reassuring them that you’ll help them develop an internship program if they don’t have one.
  • Local business or government groups:  The Commonwealth Marketing Office, a Massachusetts state agency, recently launched a website designed to advance the state’s effort to keep college students in Massachusetts after graduation from local colleges. The Mass Stay Here Internship Site is a statewide internship resource highlighting internship opportunities. The Mass Technology Leadership Council and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce are also creating internship sites on the same platform for their member companies, so internships posted to the MassTLC and Boston Chamber sites will appear on the Mass Stay Here Internships site.
  • On campus:  The Daily Princetonian recently reported how student government organizations can support internships.  The USG approved $6,300 for a summer technology intern to work on USG-related projects, including a mobile calendar application and an improved meal exchange site. The summer intern will also work on projects such as improving the DVD rental system and the USG election registration site. The $6,300 will cover summer housing and a $17 hourly salary for the USG intern. Both the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life at Princeton sponsor summer internships, too.

How Can Students Stand Out Among Internship Applicants?

May 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Posted in Finding internships, Intern Advice | Leave a comment
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Joyce Domijan

Often when students create their first resume to apply for their initial internship, their background and experience are lacking due to their youth, and they struggle to find appropriate information to include. I’m sure that you’ve reviewed a few anemic resumes in your years in career services. How can students with little business experience create resumes that will entice employers to call them for an interview?

Employers don’t expect interns to have lots of business experience, so what do they look for in a resume that will differentiate applicants?  Employers want to see indications of prized qualities such as:

  • Creativity
  • Hard work
  • Motivation
  • Dedication
  • Leadership
  • Loyalty

But with little business experience, how can students illustrate these qualities? Students need to think outside the box to unearth examples from their life experience, school experience, extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts and any other area where they can illustrate that they exhibit these qualities.  A few examples might include:

  • Ask a teacher/professor/instructor from a ‘favorite course’ where the student excelled, to write a recommendation and include a bullet under coursework quoting the instructor’s praise.
  • Student’s with a background in athletics, music, or other ‘practiced arts’ should include bullets, describing their workout or practice regimens; their years of dedication; their achievements within their craft; etc. These illustrate their motivation and dedication. Also, include any awards they may have earned (e.g. qualified for state tournament; played first violin; etc.).
  • Most young people are involved in some type of volunteer experiences. Always include these types of activities on the resume. They show a concern and empathy for others and a dedication to their community.
  • A student, who has encountered adversity and overcome it, has built character. This is another area where a student should include examples. If you helped to raise siblings or contributed to the household through odd jobs, it speaks volumes about your character.

Remember – resume content, especially in the early years, should contain information that speaks to the student’s accomplishments, regardless of where they occur. In the end, students need to be creative with their resumes and find ways through their life experience to differentiate themselves from the pack!

Encouraging students to use Spring Break to find internships

April 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Posted in Advising interns, Finding internships | 1 Comment
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Susan Sandberg

Many students are enjoying a well-deserved Spring Break. An email reminder from you as their career services advisor might motivate them to think beyond the moment and come back from Break with a summer internship lined up—or even an externship or shadowing experience—as well as a tan. Here are some recent items to share with your students:

  • Spring Break Internships/Externships: In an article for Her Campus, Ngozi Ekeledo shares tips and advice on how to use spring break to find an internship. “Packing up and heading to Miami or MTV Spring Break are great options, but getting a crash course in a company’s daily ins and outs can also give you a (less tan) leg up. Many businesses, companies and schools offer spring break internship opportunities that you can take advantage of, and they’re often less competitive to land than summer internships.” Caitlin Crotty, an advisor for Medill Career Services at Northwestern University, believes that networking is the key benefit of a shorter internship. “It’s hard to work on something meaningful in that short time span, but internships and externships are a wonderful way to meet some professionals in a target organization or industry,” she said.
  • Shadowing alumni: Some universities set up externship programs with alumni in which current students can follow these workers for a day at their jobs. Northwestern University’s NEXT externship program is a great example. Students register through the alumni association website and have the chance to follow someone in the field of their choice. Some popular choices for students include business, communications and law. For instance, in the field of journalism, students have the chance to shadow a worker at The New York Times or NBC to learn more about these media powerhouses. Read the rest of this article from Her Campus.com.
  • International Internships: The following excerpts are from a recent article, “Internships abroad more popular,” by Torie Deible, news staff writer. While many Virginia Tech students traveled to Mexico or other countries for spring break last week, others have been going abroad for work instead of play to take international internships. “So many companies, if they’re not already international, are thinking about going international. They’re all thinking globally. Someone who has had that international opportunity is an asset to the company,” said Reed Kennedy, director of international programs for the Pamplin College of Business. Kennedy, a supporter of international internships, said when students intern abroad they gain self-confidence and undergo much more of a growth experience than interning back home.
  • Internships in nonviolence and community organizing: Students concerned over the escalating violence and war erupting over the globe may want to read about the internships with the Fellowship of Reconciliation posted By FOR. The Metta Center for Nonviolence nonviolence immersion program is open to young adults ages 18 to 35, and located in Berkeley, CA, and includes an opportunity to work directly with FOR’s office in Oakland. The Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center internship in multifaith community organizing and nonviolence practice is open to young adults ages 18 to 28, and located in Stony Point, NY. The Greensboro Justice Fund Fellowships at the Highlander Center in popular education and community organizing for social change is open to all adults over age 18, and located in New Market, TN.
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