By Rachel Zupek Farrell, Special to CareerBuilder
Although college students have just gotten in the full swing of fall semester, they should already be thinking about internship opportunities come spring. Faced with an improving but still uncertain job market, it's imperative to get a leg up on other job candidates.
Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed by staffing provider Aerotek said they would encourage college students to participate in internship programs to make getting a job easier. The survey found that those who had an internship benefited from the value of networking and its effect on finding a job. Aerotek surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults ages 25-54 to uncover ways to better position college graduates in a competitive job market.
"Although the job market seems to be slightly improving for college graduates, there are still a lot of obstacles making it more difficult to secure a job offer after graduation," said Todd Gardner, vice president of marketing and communications, in a press release. "Based on our survey results, we believe college students can get a leg up in the job search process by taking advantage of the networking opportunities that exist in internships and through the use of social sites."
But don't just find any internship -- find one that pays. And not necessarily in dollar amounts, but in satisfaction, experience and the possibility of a full-time offer.
We got the inside scoop on available internships sure to pique your interest:
1. ServiceMaster, a residential and commercial service provider
About the program: "Students and graduates are chosen to serve as junior analysts for a 10-week internship. They have the opportunity to meet and interact with the executive committee, visit branches and see how the company operates at different levels.
"ServiceMaster also partners with the Leadership Academy and its The Summer Experience program to provide the students with ample opportunities and activities to network learn and have fun.
"The 2010 program concluded with eight interns being hired into full-time positions, four interns returning for this summer's program, and four job offers pending the students' graduation. The 2011 program concluded with two interns being hired into full-time positions, 12 interns having their internships extended, and others receiving invitations for next summer." -- Alison Boyle, public relations and issues management, ServiceMaster
2. Sierra Club, an environmental organization
About the program: "The Sierra Club's Best Internship on Earth program offers young adults with a passion for the environment and the outdoors a unique opportunity to spend the summer traveling with community outreach programs around the country that focus on outdoor experiences. For example, the 2011 intern walked in the Puerto Rican Day Parade, participated at Outdoor Nation, went rafting down the American River, attended a Military Families Outdoors weekend program and went on an archaeological dig in Utah, among other trips.
"The selected intern receives a $2,500 stipend and $2,000 worth of merchandise provided by The North Face (the Sierra Club handles travel logistics). The intern documents his experiences in video blogs for the Sierra Club and PlanetExplore.com, using resources at Sierra Club headquarters in San Francisco to edit the clips.
"Students in today's economy are deeply motivated to enhance their résumés with exciting internships and summer jobs to boost their careers. Whereas so many internships these days take place in an office; we offer one lucky intern the opportunity to blend job experience with Adventure. The intern gets to travel around the country and participate in programs that promote appreciation and protection of nature through outdoor education. This type of life experience can be applied to whatever comes next." -- Rebecca Silver, The Sierra Club
3. Syracuse University
About the program: "Syracuse University teams up with JPMorgan Chase to offer technology internships at JPMC and other technology companies to Syracuse students as well as students from other colleges and universities.
"The program, Global Enterprise Technology -- Immersion Experience, offers students an eight-month, well-paid internship in a professional workplace while they continue their academic course work as full-time students. It provides an opportunity for them to build their résumés and professional networks with some of the world's leading global companies.
"GET interns join a sponsoring company's information-technology team where they are exposed to different areas of technology within that organization. The GET Immersion Experience provides interns with the chance to gain more real-world work experience than a typical internship because of its extended length." -- J.D. Ross, communications director, School of Information Studies
4. Trevelino/Keller, a communications firm
About the program: "Trevelino/Keller has a quarterly internship program, with two interns per quarter. Trevelino/Keller's interns support the agency's consumer and technology practices. We seek candidates who show the ability to demonstrate a high level of resourcefulness and a willingness to learn research, writing, media relations and social media skills.
"The 12-week position is designed to offer an individual a range of practical experience in today's public relations industry. It is a paid position that includes a $500 monthly stipend.
"We offer interns the opportunity to become completely emerged in the day-to-day life at a PR agency -- they are active participants in internal meetings, brainstorm sessions and staff meetings. They have the opportunity to draft press materials, releases, pitches, research media lists, pull intelligence reports and help with new business research. They are also tasked with assisting the agency in its social media efforts." -- Carrie Crabill, Trevelino/Keller
5. Livio Radio, an online radio organization
About the program: "Livio Radio has an internship program for engineering, public relations, marketing and social media. Interns are given real work to do on behalf of the company, coaching sessions, résumé/portfolio workshops and career growth.
"Livio Radio has a rigorous 10-week program that integrates daily challenges and real-world experience with individual coaching, résumé and portfolio workshops along with a monthly stipend.
"Our engineering program integrates software development, documentation writing, software and hardware de-bugging along with cool gadgets our engineers get to keep.
"The public relations program integrates writing, pitching, copy editing, event planning and media tracking along with learning sessions geared toward improving speaking, writing and pitching skills throughout the internship.
"As a growing company, we like to keep good people as we find them, so it's not uncommon for an intern to be hired once he finishes school." -- Nicole Yelland, brand manager, Livio Radio
6. InfoCision, a direct marketing company
About the program: "We have a great paid internship program ($10 an hour) that employs interns throughout the year at our corporate headquarters. The internships range from working in our IT department to client management to call center supervisor.
"Through the internship program, we have found great success in turning interns into full-time employees upon graduation. One of our newest hires in our IT department was a summer intern. Also, new this summer was an intern project that gave them face time in front of senior management. As a group, all of the interns researched, compiled and presented a case to senior management for updating the corporate website." -- Gretchen E. Fri, APR, senior public relations manager, InfoCision
7. Art & Business Council of New York
About the program: "Our Multicultural Arts Management Internship program promotes diversity in administrative staffing, introducing undergraduates to career options with a business focus in the arts.
"Each year, a select group of students -- with an emphasis on people of African-American, Asian-American and Latino backgrounds -- is matched with New York City arts organizations to complete 10-week, project-based internships in a variety of disciplines, such as marketing, public relations, fundraising, event management, community outreach and more.
"Each intern is also paired with a mentor from the business community who has a passion for and involvement in the arts and who can provide additional career guidance and perspective. Each student works full time at his or her arts organization, and the group comes together at least once a week for site visits and career development. Interns are paid a stipend of $2,500 and receive free unlimited MetroCards for travel on NYC subways and buses.
"Although getting jobs as a result of this internship is not a focus of the program (the undergraduate interns generally return to school at the end of the summer program), it does happen that interns are offered ongoing employment as a direct result of their internship. After last summer's program, one intern commuted from college a few days a week to continue working for pay on the project he'd developed, and another, who'd just graduated, was offered a job by an arts organization that was not the one she'd worked for that summer; the executive director had met the intern through program events and was impressed by her speech at the closing ceremony." -- Karen Zornow Leiding, deputy director, Arts & Business Council of New York
Rachel Zupek Farrell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.
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