By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
Spring semester is going by in the blink of an eye (how are we halfway through February already?) and BU is racking up the events for senior semester, like a trip to Foxwoods Resort Casino this past weekend, and an upcoming on-campus Matt and Kim concert, as well as parties counting down to graduation.
It’s all fun and games until someone asks the dreaded question feared most by seniors: “So, do you have any plans for after graduation?”
This week The New York Times tackled the issue of how, in a suffering economy where jobs are few and far between, many recent college graduates are feeling trapped in an endless cycle of internships that neither pay nor lead to permanent jobs.
For college students, landing an internship is a great way to boost your resume and learn valuable skills outside of the classroom. But many graduates, especially those aspiring to break into the fashion, film, or magazine industries, are finding themselves at a point where it is becoming increasingly difficult to break free from the cycle of unpaid work.
According to The Times article, post-graduate internship opportunities are far more abundant than job openings these days, making them easy bait for those fresh out of college. But some question whether it’s worth taking the time to work as interns, thereby delaying real employment, and if there’s even a light at the end of the tunnel.
The overall job economy is a major part of the reasons why most companies cannot afford to hire their interns. The overall unemployment rate was 7.4% in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, though it has decreased to 6.6% as of Jan. 2014.
And of course, the unemployment rates vary depending on what your major is. Those studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are probably better off than those studying liberal arts. A 2013 study conducted by Georgetown University shows that there have been lower unemployment rates for recent graduates in education (5%), engineering (7%) and the health sciences (4.8%), all areas that are “tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.”
The future seems bleak for students. While it never hurts to build your resume and gain experience and add to a growing network, for some there may come a time when you’ll have to settle for an office job outside your desired field.
Party hard while you still can, seniors. But don’t let your last hurrah distract you from the “real world” you’ll be entering in a few months.
After the long summer, the first question out of your professors’ and your classmates’ mouths is probably going to be along the lines of, “So what did you do this summer?”
While some are probably unconcerned with what you did and others can hardly wait to tell you about the prestigious or cool or both internship or travel plans they had over the summer, they do bring up a point of interest for many these days–internships are just as much a part of the college experience as classes are today. Since internships are intertwined with higher education, more people are competing for less internships, most of which are unpaid.
Over the summer, a student who was unpaid for his work with Fox Searchlight Pictures sued–and won. The U.S. district judge said that when student interns do the work of a regular employee, they do deserve a paycheck.
Though you should probably wait a second before you start filing suits against all of your previous internship supervisors that made you grab coffee one too many times. The U.S. Department of Labor did spell out what is allowed and what is not for unpaid interns. The Department of Labor said that as long as the student is getting more educational benefit from the internship than the employer is gaining from their work, not getting paid is permissible.
However, is it a good thing to teach students that their contributions are so small that they don’t even deserve minimum wage?
Among the 2013 graduates who applied for a job after they received their bachelor degrees 63.1 percent of those who completed paid internships received at least one job offer. That compared to the 37 percent who received a job offer but having completed unpaid internships, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers 2013 Student Survey.
While this may have something to do with the type of fields that offer paid internships (usually in the STEM fields) and the fields that are hiring the most people at the time, these are somewhat frightening statistics.
Why get up before noon and head to an office during the long, hot months of June, July and August and not be paid at your internship?
For this reason: Internships are not only a part of higher education, but are also responsible for teaching students many skills they they may not learn in the classroom. Employers also get a good deal out of the popularity of internships as well; young people bring fresh perspectives as well as being both Internet and technology savvy.
Though it would be nice if employers and students reached a balance wherein students learn on the job while paying for their own food.
By Michelle Jay, Multimedia Editor
As my junior year came to a close, I watched as most of my friends prepared for their summers in New York City or Boston or some other city that wasn’t the one they grew up while I packed up and moved back to the house I grew up in. To say I was dreading it might have been an understatement. The large majority of my friends, even my best friend from high school, were going to be living 1,000 miles away. It’s not that I don’t love my family, but after eight months of relative freedom, the prospect of moving back under my parents’ roof as a 21-year-old was not thrilling.
May 5 found me settled back into the same room I slept in from birth until high school graduation, sharing a car with my younger brother and relying on technology to maintain my relationships back east.
My internship started mid-May and I quickly settled into a routine. While I still whined and complained, summer seemingly flew by. Suddenly, I am preparing for my senior year of college.
Then I realized this was my last “real” summer. After years of eight months of school followed by four months of summer, once I graduate in May that concept disappears. This summer is probably the last time I could – guilt free – come home for four months to work four days a week and lay around the other three while having my dad cook a large majority of my meals, my mom clean up around me and my little brother bother me.
Looking back, I’m kind of glad I came home for my last summer. Had I not, I would have missed things that are uniquely home experiences: screaming at the television with my family while watching the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, eating Portillos, walking to the downtown area of my town at 8:30 p.m. – only to find everything closed at 8 p.m., running at dusk and having fireflies blink around me and, of course, family dinners that involve “discussions” of whether my brother or I get the car the next day.
This summer reminded me that no matter where I go I can always go home.
Watch the video below for a song that inspires one about home:
By Abigail Lin
Abbie is a junior advertising major at Boston University and former photo editor of the Daily Free Press. She is spending the semester abroad in Paris while participating in the BU Paris internship program. She will be writing a series of weekly posts in which she explains her efforts to understand and adapt to the culture– which may not always be successful, but will undoubtedly be entertaining.
Grasping at the precipice between the cab and Paris, ravenously breathing in the gritty, damp air, one could imagine my excitement at having arrived in a new country to be called home for a whole semester. We passed by multiple people walking with oblong baguettes in tow, script-laden signs of corner cafes and brasseries, a huge open-air market teeming with Parisians and fresh fish in the north of the city.
Imagine my surprise when at the end of my ride, the cab driver turned around and said, “Cent euros, s’il vous plait.” Not sure if I had misheard or if my French knowledge of basic French numbers was even worse than I had anticipated, I asked him to repeat it. “Cent euros, madame,” he stated matter of factly, awaiting my payment. Feeling helpless in a new country, I handed over my 100 euro bill without a protest.
As I buzzed the apartment of my host mom, rapid-fire French was spit out of the intercom, and I somehow was able to manage blabbering out my name. After appearing, and introducing herself, she gauged from my wide-eyed response that I was having trouble and she asked if I understood French. Pleased that I understood, I uttered, “un peu” (a little). And by “un peu” I meant I had studied French on and off for eight years. Smiling sympathetically, she took me up to what was to be my home for the next four months.
Settling in, I ventured out of my bedroom to to go the bathroom. When I got there, I saw a washing machine, a tub with no curtain or mounted shower head, I was bewildered to say the least. Embarrassingly, I asked my host mom where the toilet was. She led to the next door over, and pushed it in for me. A tiny closet, it contained the toilet and nothing else. “Bof,” I thought (Bof= sound of exasperation uttered by French people on the daily).
Adjusting to the cultural norms of this country, not to mention navigating the nuances of the language have been at times frustrating, embarrassing, and downright tiring. Since then, I’ve been working on maneuvering the tricky balance between adjusting to French cultural norms, and coming to terms with my place in this crazy city.
It’s been two and a half months, and among the most notable things I’ve mastered include: looking stoic and/or angry on the metro so as to not attract attention to myself, avoiding the inevitable mounds of dog poop on the sidewalk, and having unnaturally low expectations of my prospect of viewing the sun on any given day.
Things I still haven’t mastered: the art of the French washing machines, as evidenced by the baby green cardigan I’m sporting today, how to get behind working until seven every day (the norm in France), and getting used to men holding Longchamp bags.
Follow me on my volatile relationship with the City of Lights through the end of April, and stay tuned for musings on croissants, full time internships in French, and my personal humiliation.
By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
With the start of spring just around the corner, internship season is in full swing. Companies are in search of eager college students who are willing to learn the ins and outs of their trade.
Internships are a win-win for both students and employers. We obtain a valuable learning experience and great connections while the employer gets to work with driven students who want to succeed and help in any way they can.
I did some research in order to find advice and resources that I thought would be most helpful during an internship search. I also attended an internship workshop at the Career Development Center here at BU.
According to the Quintessential Career Site, the first major step in internships is to understand your own internship goals. Before you start sending out applications you should probably know basic things such as what you hope to gain from an internship, what your career interest is, and what type of companies you are looking to work for.
Some other things to consider (mentioned in the Career Development Center’s internship workshop) are whether an internship is paid or unpaid, part-time or full time, and whether or not you are awarded academic credit for partaking. All of these factors will help drive you to your best-fit internship, sort of like how we all chose Boston University as our ideal school.
Before you start your internship search, an organized resume is important. Sometimes that resume is the only document between you and an interview.
The Center for Career Development, located at 100 Baystate Road, offers multiple workshops on internship throughout the year as well as open office hours to look your resume over without the hassle of making an appointment. These office hours are also for reviewing cover letters, which vary depending on which company you are applying to.
If you are like me and aren’t sure how to start building a resume, the CDC has a page specific to the format of a resume, which is pretty convenient if you ask me.
Finding an internship can be daunting at first, but if you know where to look the process gets a lot easier.
The BU Career link features internship postings that can be sorted by position, location and school affiliation, as well as employer directories that can be searched through easily with key words.
Another great resource for local internships is Bostinno’s Internship Hub, where new job opportunities are constantly updated.
Sometimes if you already have a specific company in mind, you can go directly to the companies website and check out their career opportunities and internship descriptions or qualifications.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you probably won’t find your dream internship right away. It is good to gain experience from other job opportunities instead of tossing them aside because you’re determined to start with your favorite, top-notch company.
Also, don’t get discouraged if your first applications don’t get you internship offers right away. Internships are just as much about employers finding individuals who will be the best fit for a position as it is about us finding the companies that give us the best overall experience. Don’t give up!
Network, and do it frequently. Speaking with guest lecturers, professors, and even your peers about internships may give you a step up in the search. Connections can get you far, but be sure to follow up with your contacts to demonstrate that you are serious about any offers they might send your way.