Keeping up with internship news

March 20, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Current events | 2 Comments
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Coach Susan Sandberg

Susan Sandberg

Internship news appears daily in media outlets nationwide, such as the recent op-ed piece in The New York Times by Charles Murray, author of the newly published book, “Coming Apart.” He asserts that “we should get rid of unpaid internships. The children of the new upper class hardly ever get real jobs during summer vacation. Instead, they get internships at places like the Brookings Institution, the American Enterprise Institute (where I work) or a senator’s office. It amounts to career assistance for rich, smart children. Those from the middle and working class, struggling to pay for college, can’t afford to work for free.”

Though less controversial, other current internship news topics include the following excerpts:

  • Sacramento Bee:   Employers expect to ramp up hiring college interns this summer as companies continue to climb out of the recession. Firms plan to increase their hiring for summer internships by 8.5 percent over last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, reported. Local college career center officials were upbeat, saying they are seeing an uptick in intern recruiting activity. “We certainly are seeing many employers who are excited about the hiring of summer interns,” said Janice Morand, project manager at the Internship and Career Center at UC Davis, where the heaviest recruiting is in computer science, engineering and information technology. Eva Gabbe, a California State University, Sacramento, employment relations and recruitment manager, said she’s also seeing an upswing in internship recruiting at her campus. Interns are paid less than their full-time counterparts and also give wary firms some wiggle room in a difficult economy, Gabbe said. Nearly all of the organizations polled plan to pay their interns, NACE officials said. The average pay for bachelor’s degree-level interns, at $16.21 an hour, is slightly less than last year’s $16.68, according to NACE.
  • White Lake Beacon:  Many companies have found that hiring and utilizing interns can be a cost-effective way to help grow their business and cultivate a knowledge-based workforce. With workforce development on the forefront of the business community’s mind, hiring interns can be one step towards bridging this gap. To help determine whether a business could benefit from interns, or to make the most out of an existing intern program, two different programs are being provided in the Muskegon Lakeshore area. The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce will be hosting an Intern Business Briefing highlighting best practices for hiring and using interns. Later that day, the Employers Association of West Michigan will hold a Lunch N Learn to look at the technical side of the intern process, diving into critical components of a successful internship program.
  • USA TODAY: As summer intern season draws near, many employers are doing away with unpaid internships or converting them to paid programs amid lawsuits that claim interns should have been compensated for their work, labor lawyers say. “They’re saying, ‘We’re not going to run the risk,’ ” says Al Robinson, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and former acting administrator of the Labor Department’s wage and hour unit. Unpaid internships are legal only if they meet stringent Labor criteria. For example, programs must provide training and benefit interns, not employers. Some firms are modifying programs by rotating interns among several departments, says lawyer Brian Dixon of Littler Mendelson. During and after the recession, unpaid internships spread as employers faced tight budgets, says Ross Perlin, author of 2011’s Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. And laid-off workers were eager to fill gaps on their résumés. There are about 1.5 million internships in the U.S. each year, nearly half unpaid, Perlin says. In 2010, Labor outlined criteria they must meet. That led many employers to re-evaluate their internships.
  • Business Wire:  SummerQAmp, a nationwide initiative to train a new workforce in high-tech skills and help create tech jobs for American youth, has launched. SummerQAmp’s mission is to help keep the U.S. at the forefront of innovation by creating tech jobs in America. Specifically, it will promote awareness for Quality Assurance (QA) as a career opportunity by inviting leading U.S. software companies to offer QA internships this summer to those without formal technical training. SummerQAmp’s goal is to help create at least 1,000 QA internships this summer alone. “SummerJobs+ and SummerQAmp educate and train young people who might not ordinarily consider a career in technology,” said Jon Bon Jovi, who is known for his efforts to help empower at-risk youth. “On behalf of the White House Council for Community Solutions, I support SummerJobs+ and their mission to empower youth who are presently disconnected from education, jobs, and career opportunities. The kind of on-the-job training that SummerQAmp aims to provide can create pathways to career opportunities in technology and a brighter future.”

About internships: it’s all about the employer this summer

January 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Summer internships | 1 Comment
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by Colleen Sabatino

As career counselors, we always have our students’ best interest in mind. We work on behalf of the student first and support employers only as a means for getting our students connected to them. That is why this blog post is a tough reality check that we need to get clear on. This week’s blog is about an important message that we need to send to all students seeking a summer internship. The message?

“This summer, it is about the employer not the student.”

In the past year, 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 labor. In a thriving economy, employers want to invest in the future workforce by providing opportunities for young emerging professionals to learn about their industry and professions. However, when times get tough, employers want to simply stay alive long enough to get through the recession.

As an intern, your student needs to adjust to this new mindset and approach internships differently than in the past. Instead of approaching their summer internship as an opportunity to learn about a profession or industry, they will need focus on pursuing an internship that helps them contribute their skills in a way that generates value and substance for the employer. As a result of that contribution, they will no doubt learn about the profession and industry but the goal should be contributing not learning. Employers in this tough economy are trying to make their dollars go farther and their people produce more. Internships help them accomplish both. A student that is committed to helping them get more for their money and do more with less is the one who gets the offer. The one who is looking to learn about the profession or industry will be sitting at home. It won’t matter how smart or good they might be, this summer, the winners will be the ones who recognize the needs of employers and embrace them. It is our responsibility as career counselors to help them shift their mindset and prepare appropriately for interviews. 

So what does this mean for your students? Well for starters, we can coach them on what to say when asked in an interview, “Why do you want this internship?” We can help them understand that the focus needs to on what they can do for the employer. Do not talk about how this is a great opportunity for them to learn about the industry and profession. While that might also be true, it is not the most important reason to highlight in the interview. What’s important to the employer is their ability to take initiative and produce quality work as a member of their team.

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