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.