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Family 411: Evaluating Internships for College Students
DAYTON -- More and more college grads are facing challenges finding a job. They may think turning to an internship, even unpaid, opens the door. But they may not have to work for free, and it's not just college students who could benefit from a new trend in internships.
Andrew Hamilton is a college freshman who says, "College is expensive, and not just college. Being an engineer, it's laptops, programs, so much more than college that you have to pay for." Hamilton is already thinking about how to offset those expenses and get real world work experience. He attended a recent university career and internship fair.
One of the people he met there was General Electric University Relations Manager Dave Ferguson. He says, "We view interns as a talent pipeline."
Ferguson's job is to line up that student talent for GE. The company offers about 2,000 paid internships and co-ops each year. Ferguson says, "We look at these students as the next generation of leaders."
Jason Eckert is the director of career services at the University of Dayton. He says, "Students should be compensated for the work they do, and I've seen a rise in the number of employers who are compensating their interns."
The U.S. Labor Department has a six-prong test for employers to determine whether they SHOULD be paying. The major criteria: whether an employer gains advantage by having an intern. Eckert says, "Just having more staff helps you be successful and increases productivity."
About 62 percent of internships in America are paid, according to Intern Bridge, a firm which tracks them. While some students say that makes a company more attractive, others say it's all about the experience. College student Raissa Takouda says, "They're giving something to you, so you should be thankful for that."
Michelle Jones of the U.S. Department of State says her department offers a mix of internships. Some are paid and some are not. She says even if students dont make money while learning, theyre gaining valuable experience.
Government and non-profits are exempt from the Labor Department test, but colleges and companies like GE think paying for talent helps more than just this generation of students. They say it helps America. Ferguson points out, I like to say the team with the best players wins."
Dr. Robert Shindell of Intern Bridge predicts that within a few years all employers will be required to pay their interns. He believes unpaid internships will only exist if students are willing to take them.
The Ferguson Decision
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