It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a slow economy, and graduating students are feeling the squeeze. The number of unemployed Americans age 16-24 rose by more than 1.7 million from April-July, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released in the end of August. This is the highest increase for this time period since 1948.
For many, a good internship can mean the difference between cashing a paycheck, and waiting in the unemployment line.
“My internship turned into a job very quickly,” says Jennifer Spivak, a 22-year-old graduate of the CCNY Media and Communications Arts Program, “but that was part of the plan.”
Spivak is now an account manager at Social Fulcrum, a marketing company that specializes in social media. Social Fulcrum recently brought another CCNY student onboard for a fall internship, and has plans to offer that student a job upon its completion.
“We have a very specific method of using social media as a marketing tool,” explains Spivak, “it’s just easier to train an intern on our methods and hire them, rather than hiring someone and paying them while they learn.”
Apparently many companies follow that same model. In a July 2011 survey, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 38 percent of students who interned were rewarded with a job offer.
In addition to the tangible benefit of a paying job, students can gain other things from internships.
Marcus Wolfe, a mathematics major in his senior year, interned with American Friends of Jamaica, a not-for-profit organization specializing on improving relations between Jamaica and the United States.
“Although it is not really connected to math, I learned other things that helped me with my long-term goal of making an impact in my country,” Wolfe says. “Who to get resources from, ways I can go about it, things I wouldn’t have learned inside my normal area of Mathematics,” he says, adding that he hopes to become a teacher and help educate people in Jamaica.
For many students who don’t feel as sure what they would like to do after graduation, internships can serve as a way of figuring things out.
“Internships are an essential bridge between learning in an academic environment and being qualified for a position and understanding the demands and expectations of the workplace,” explains Professor Lynn Appelbaum, current head of the MCA Internship program at City College.
“They give students the ability to experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of the work world; and the chance to see if the career path they’re on is really the right path for them,” Appelbaum adds. Appelbaum just completed an internship handbook, which she is giving to MCA students.
Internships can also lead to a significant salary advantage.
The starting salary for graduates with internship experience averaged $42,000 compared to just $35,000 for those without it, according to a National Associations of Colleges and Employers survey conducted in 2010.
So whether it’s for the experience, the money, or the college credit, perhaps it’s time for all CCNY students to jump on the internship bandwagon, and get rolling on the road to a brighter future.