Posts tagged ‘Internship’

January 27, 2015

Internships are no longer ‘the golden key to employment’

by Grace

Linkedin surveyed its members to get a sense of how often internships lead to full-time jobs, and the findings were less than encouraging”.

The conversion rate (defined as interns becoming full-time workers with their employers) was low, according to Linkedin’s career expert Nicole Williams.

“Ten years ago an internship was the golden key to employment whereas in this competitive landscape only the strongest survive with a job offer,” she explained.

Accounting internships had the highest conversion rates, at 31%.  Here are the other top industries:

Management Consulting:  25%
Computer Software:  24%
Retail:  23%
Internet:  22%
Information Technology & Services:  22%

The industries with the lowest conversion rates:


Generally speaking, internships are important in securing employment after graduation.  But unpaid internships seem to offer minimal benefits in that regard, and other factors must be considered in assessing the value of getting work experience during college.  Variations by industry are important, as well as by the types of job duties.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that last year the overall conversion rate was 51%.  Considering anecdotal information about the popularity of unpaid internships, this is hard to believe.  NACE’s numbers come from surveying their own members, which I suspect are self-selected to skew toward more positive results.

Related:  “Many young college graduates faced with ‘culture of internships’”


Mark Koba, “These companies hire interns for full-time jobs”, CNBC, March 20, 2014.

March 3, 2014

Advice to college students: Get a job!

by Grace

College graduates’ biggest regret is not getting more work experience.


… Pew Research survey asked college graduates whether, while still in school, they could have better prepared for the type of job they wanted by gaining more work experience, studying harder or beginning their job search earlier.

About three-quarters of all college graduates say taking at least one of those four steps would have enhanced their chances to land their ideal job. Leading the should-have-done list: getting more work experience while still in school. Half say taking this step would have put them in a better position to get the kind of job they wanted. About four-in-ten (38%) regret not studying harder, while three-in-ten say they should have started looking for a job sooner (30%) or picked a different major (29%).

This is consistent with the advice that focusing exclusively on academics in college is a mistake.

Students become more valuable to employers by spending time in the real world.

But many have never been in an office setting and had the experience of having to work hard for a difficult boss. They may not understand the sense of urgency that permeates the fabric of most work environments, and they may misread the cues and signals of prospective employers and recruiters as they search for a job.

Advice to college students:  Get a job!  (But don’t slack off on studying.)

Related:  Put kids to work to fix the problem of delayed adolescence (Cost of College)

July 17, 2013

Quick Links — New York average college debt; black families denied student loans; summer intern fails big

by Grace

The average New York state college student debt load for a 2011 graduate is about $26,400.

That compares to a 2011 nationwide average student debt of $27,200, which includes loans for both state and private colleges.  The New York average seems high since their state schools are considered among the nation’s best values in public colleges.

* * * * *

… the Obama administration has begun denying student loans to disproportionately large numbers of black parents because of blemished credit histories.

 United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax calls  this a “a nasty surprise”.

In the past year, for historically black colleges and universities (HCBU), the Obama administration’s policies have led to a 36 percent drop in the volume of parent loans. That translated into an annual cut of more than $150 million. The reason, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is to prevent parents from taking on too much debt — which is as patronizing as it is hypocritical. In April, Obama announced that he was pushing to make more home loans available to people with weak credit.

…  from Howard University in the District to Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, enrollment at HBCUs is declining as the realities of Obama’s revamped loan policies make a mockery of his high-flung rhetoric.

“It is particularly ironic that at a time when this administration has set a goal to increase the nation’s college graduation rate to 60 percent by 2020, this policy shift occurs that will make reaching the goal impossible,” said Cheryl Smith, senior vice president for public policy and government at the United Negro College Fund. “The tougher credit criteria are having a disparate impact on underrepresented minority students, the very ones that stand to benefit the most from a college education.”

Stricter underwriting standards were added for Parent Plus loans in October 2011, but federal loans continue to have easier qualification requirements than private loans do.

According to Education Department standards, prospective borrowers can’t have any current accounts more than 90 days delinquent, or any foreclosures, bankruptcies, tax liens, wage garnishments or defaults within the past five years. But the department doesn’t look at prospective borrowers’ incomes or their current debt load, meaning that poor borrowers with little or no credit history can be approved.

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NTSB summer intern blamed for racist names

A NTSB summer intern “erroneously” confirmed bogus names of the pilots manning the Asiana flight that crashed in San Francisco last week.  The names, which included “Captain Sum Ting Wong”, were read on the air by a local news anchor.

I’m waiting to see if this intern’s name is released, and if he goes on to get his 15 minutes of “fame”.

One of the fake names provided was “Ho Lee Fuk”, which reminded me of the time my husband worked with a client whose name included Fuk.  Unsurprisingly, it caused a few laughs around the office.

June 24, 2013

Only PAID internships lead to job offers?

by Grace

Is it a myth that most college internships lead to jobs?

According to Jordan Weissmann writing in The Atlantic, it’s only the paid internships that are likely to result in jobs after graduation.  Students who worked at unpaid internships did not seem to receive any advantage in securing job offers, faring only slightly better than students with no internships at all.


Additional details:

  • Among students who found jobs, former unpaid interns were actually offered less money than those with no internship experience.
  • … unpaid interns fared roughly the same or worse on the job market compared to non-interns across a variety of fields, including business, communications, engineering, English, and political science.
  • … paid and unpaid interns had about the same distribution of GPA’s.

Here are some things to consider when looking at the correlation between unpaid internships and fewer job offers.

  • If a company is willing to pay an intern, it might follow that they consider that person a stronger candidate for a full-time job offer.
  • It’s “possible that there are inherent differences between the kinds of students who take unpaid internships and their peers”.  The person who is willing to work for free may be less likely to have the skills and qualities needed for a job offer.
  • The GPA statistics cited are too broad to draw conclusions about competency.  Grade averages are partly a function of major, with science and engineering students typically earning lower grades than those of education and language students.
  • Many of those unpaid internships could be at places that simply do not hire in significant numbers, but rely on unpaid volunteers for much of their work.  These could be non-profit entities such as charities, museums, or political organizations.

Causation not correlation
One take-away is that while internships may figure prominently in enhancing the chances of securing employment after graduation, in many cases it could be more a matter of correlation instead of causation.  Maybe it’s simply the case that the strongest job candidates are likely to get both the best internships and the best jobs.


April 16, 2013

The rise of serial interns – ‘long hours and low pay’

by Grace

“Permatern” is the new label for a college graduate who spends years in her 20s working for a minimal stipend or for free.  This pattern seems to have become more common for some liberal arts college graduates seeking jobs in media, the arts, and other fields, particularly in the metro areas of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

Kate, with a degree in political science from an Ivy League school, was recently profiled in The Week.

She had one internship at a political organization and another at a media company and is now an unpaid intern at a lobbying firm. To make ends meet, she works as a hostess three or four nights a week, which means she often clocks 15-hour days.

Lacking a steady paycheck and benefits

… After all, who wants to still be an intern at an age when you should have a 401(k) and a modicum of job security, or at least be earning more than you did at your summer job during high school? …

When I ask Kate how many jobs she’s applied for, she says, “Like a million.”

Permaterns are sometimes counted in the growing numbers of underemployed college graduates.

Desperate as she is, the Department of Labor doesn’t consider her to be unemployed, because she has two jobs. Instead, Kate, who often works more than 60 hours a week, is in a class of workers who don’t show up in government reports. She’s one of the “permaterns” — those perpetual interns, mostly in their 20s — who have been battered by the recession and are holding out hope that the conventional career wisdom that an internship leads to a job isn’t folklore from a bygone era.

A ‘skills gap’

The serial intern isn’t unique to D.C. You can find young people languishing at film studios in Los Angeles and magazine empires in New York City. The permatern phenomenon points toward wider trends in the economy — namely the cutthroat competition for knowledge-economy jobs, the lack of investment in this generation, and the skills gap between what a generation weaned on a liberal-arts education is trained for and what the in-demand skills and professions are right now (i.e., not another poli-sci or English major). The result? For many in Washington, the American dream starts with a highbrow internship that pays $4.35 an hour — then another, and maybe another.

STEM majors usually avoid serial internships.

Not everyone in the generation meets such a fate. Jessica’s brother, who is 28 and a mechanical aerospace engineer, has been gainfully employed since the day he graduated from college, Jessica says. So here’s another chasm in the 20-something cohort: the one between the liberal-arts kids and the engineering and science majors. “Engineering is an in-demand skill,” Jessica says. “International relations/policy kids are a dime a dozen, so the intern pay difference makes sense in that regard.”

A sense of entitlement

The expectation that one’s career should be fulfilling is another reason why the mid-20s, or even early-30s, intern has become a familiar sight in Washington offices. “People in this generation, despite the recession, are looking for what they really want to do, so they take a hit in the form of an internship to land one of those coveted jobs that pays the bills and is fun,” says Ryan Healy of career-advice site

Living at home and logging long hours

… long hours and low pay go hand in hand in the creative class. The recession has been no friend to entry-level positions, where hundreds of applicants vie for unpaid internships at which they are expected to be on call with iPhone in hand, tweeting for and representing their company at all hours.

“We need to hire a 22-22-22,” one new-media manager was overheard saying recently, meaning a 22-year-old willing to work 22-hour days for $22,000 a year….

Required to be available all the time and expected to work ’65+ hours per week’.

A recent posting by Dalkey Archive Press, an avant-garde publisher in Champaign, Ill., for unpaid interns in its London office encapsulated the outlandish demands on young workers. The stern catalog of grounds for “immediate dismissal” included “coming in late or leaving early without prior permission,” “being unavailable at night or on the weekends” and “failing to respond to e-mails in a timely way.” And “The Steve Wilkos Show” on NBCUniversal recently advertised on Craigslist for a freelance booking production assistant who would work “65+ hours per week” (the listing was later removed after drawing outraged comments when it was linked on

Sometimes it works out.

Sometimes the grueling internships lead to steady jobs, often with equally grueling hours.  That is considered a success.  Other times workers give up on their dream career after years of serial internships, and get a practical job to pay the bills.  That is simply considered reality.  I recently heard a story about an aspiring teacher who interned at a Washington D.C. area women’s advocacy group for about a year, and then was finally able to get an administrative job for a lobbying firm.  One of her main goals was staying in DC, so things have worked out all right for now.

Related:  Unpaid internships – the good, the bad, and the ugly (Cost of College)

September 10, 2012

A practical college action plan to prepare for employment in the real world

by Grace

The Wall Street Journal offers a practical college action plan to help prepare students for employment in the real world after graduation.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Start during freshman year to think about what will enhance your chances for employment after graduation.  Developing relationships and polishing communication skills should start on day one.
  • Even if you are unable to secure an internship during your first two summers, look for jobs or volunteer activities that add practical experience and networking opportunities in your field of interest.  For example, if you’re considering a healthcare career you could apply for a clerical position in a hospital.
  • Learn practical math skills.  Even basic accounting knowledge can be applicable in many jobs.
  • Focus your time on a few extracurricular activities where you can stand out instead of on many where you’re just a face in the crowd.
  • Network, network, network.  Continually work on developing relationships with professors, alumni, and working professionals.


May 2, 2012

Unpaid internships – the good, the bad, and the ugly

by Grace

It’s an employer’s market out there but is there any excuse for employers getting free labor from interns?

Unscientific survey of interns conducted in New York City near the campuses of NYU, Columbia, and FIT

The good and the bad
Unpaid internships are problematic.  On one hand, they can offer unequaled opportunities for college students to gain real-world experience in their chosen field of study.  But some employers take advantage of free labor, only using students to handle menial tasks.  And lower-income students who cannot afford to take a summer off with no pay are penalized in this competitive race to gain valuable industry experience.

The practice of not paying young people for their labor has become so ingrained in the everyday practice of American business that we’ve forgotten how bizarre and recent the development is. In the early 1980s, 3 percent of college grads had had an internship. By 2006, 84 percent had done at least one. Multiple internships are common. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, more than 75 percent of employers prefer students who have interned or had a similar working experience.

Employers have feasted on despair — and these aren’t internships for struggling small presses or rarefied design companies. Subsidiaries of General Electric, a company worth $200 billion, employ them regularly as an “important recruiting tool.” Disney uses eight thousand of them in dismal working conditions. Jennifer Lopez Enterprises uses them. So does The Daily Show. So does the pope. And because internship programs are sheltered from the violation of labor laws by the complicity of universities that give students “credit” for them — as long as the students pay thousands of dollars for those credits — American companies can operate these programs for the most part hidden from scrutiny. The best study of intern life in America found that companies save annually around $2 billion from pseudo-employment.

Government regulations
For-profit employers can get away with not paying student employees as long as they follow the federal government’s six-point test that attempts to ensure an educational experience for the intern.  I agree with the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) that the criteria are reasonable except for the one requiring that the employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the student.  What?  If the intern is to perform meaningful work, it would be hoped the employer will benefit.  With a rule like this, the government seems to be encouraging employers to skirt the law.

Charles Murray, writing on the problem of growing class divisions, suggests that unpaid internships should be banned.

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. Internships pave the way for children to move seamlessly from their privileged upbringings to privileged careers without ever holding a job that is boring or physically demanding.

I disagree with his extreme recommendation, but I would support allowing internships to pay less than the minimum wage.

It can get ugly
This topic is particularly relevant for me since we recently learned that my college son will be working this summer at his dream internship, unpaid.  I am thrilled, but here’s how desperate I am.  Given the tough labor market and the importance of relevant work experience in securing a job after graduation, I would be willing to pay for my son to get the right internship.   Apparently I’m not alone, as internships for sale are part of a growing trend.  I consider that the  “ugly” part of this internship story.

Related:  ‘Six in 10 internships lead to jobs’

March 6, 2012

Employers plan to hire 8.5% more college interns this year

by Grace
The Interns (film)

Good news for college kids: Companies plan to hire more interns this summer—with pay.

Employers plan to hire 8.5% more interns this year, with the vast majority of gigs slated for the summer months, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The nonprofit polled 280 member organizations, most of them large firms that recruit on campuses, between November and January.

Altogether, companies plan to hire more than 40,000 interns this year, up from about 36,900 last year, the study found. Nearly all respondents said they plan to pay their interns, though the projected average hourly wage for bachelor’s degree students fell slightly to $16.20, from $16.70 last year.

A sign of more hiring in the future?

The boost in internship hiring could be an early indicator that the job market is improving for college students, especially since many companies offer such programs as a stepping stone to long-term employment, says Andrea Koncz, an employment information manager at NACE.

Or is it simply employers taking advantage of cheap labor to get more work done?

Some labor experts caution against taking such an optimistic view. Companies with tight budgets sometimes cope with a heavy workload by hiring more interns or temporary workers, says Eileen Appelbaum, a senior economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Since these types of workers often don’t show up on the payroll, firms can increase production without incurring permanent expenses, she adds.

“Given the way the labor market is, I wonder if this is not just a form of inexpensive recruiting,” she says.

‘Six in 10 internships lead to jobs’

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