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With Internships Getting Scarce, Students Get Creative

May 19, 2010

internships College students eager to build up work experience are finding it more difficult to find internships. According to a February survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers most industries, with a few exceptions, have been experiencing a drop in the number of formal internship programs as companies tighten budgets and slash hiring. Internship hiring overall increased this year 2.9% from 2009, but it is nowhere near recovering from the 20% drop from 2008.

The hard work to find an under-the-radar opportunity or pitch a program of their own design could well worth the investment in terms of a student's career. The Kansas City Star reported that 53.3 percent of interns were hired full-time last year and 44.6 percent of 2009 graduates hired came from employers' internship programs. These are significant numbers for graduates facing the worst job market in decade.

As a result, organizations that match students seeking work experience with internship opportunities have been swamped with applications. The Kansas City Star reported that some students pay for-profit companies that charge anywhere from $799 to $7,999 for help with researching opportunities and sprucing up resumes. On the more costly end, programs often include finding housing for programs in other cities.

While many students are happy to have help researching a market where openings may not even be publicly posted, reactions from college placement officials are mixed. "We want to help our students learn important job-hunting skills that will help them throughout their lives," said David Gaston, director of the University of Kansas career services center in the Kansas City Star. "Programs that offer to place you in the position don't require you to develop those job search skills."

There are students taking the initiative on their own to pitch internship positions to companies that do not have formal programs or to tailor one to their interests. From advertising agencies to city planning departments, students are finding with the right approach they can find their own way into an internship.

"There's no cookie-cutter approach to building your own internship," Richard Bottner, president of Intern Bridge, an internship consulting and research firm, told the Wall Street Journal. "It's about getting out there and networking." Colleen Sabatino, a career counselor and intern coach for Internships.com, told the Wall Street Journal she recommends tailoring an internship proposal to the company you're pitching, making sure that you show how your skills will improve their business. "Sure, the intern is going to get a lot out of this, but if they approach an employer with what they want to get out of it, [that attitude] shuts to the door to the employer."


Compiled by CityTownInfo Staff

Sources:

"Getting Job Experience Can Be Costly for New College Graduates," The Kansas City Star, May 15, 2010, Diane Stafford

"Creating Internships Out of Thin Air," The Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2010, Jonnelle Marte

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