Want A Great Summer Internship? 4 Tips

internship co-op programs 2012By Heather Huhman

Great news, students: Internship and co-op recruiting for the year 2011-2012 projections indicate that hiring is up.

In fact, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute's latest report, 70% of organizations plan to seek interns and co-ops for spring and summer roles in 2012, and one-third of these organizations plan to increase the number of interns and co-ops they hire this year. On average, employers will hire about 20 interns and co-ops.

How can you be among the 20 at a company of your choice? Below are four key factors to keep in mind:

1. Size Matters

Data indicates that fast growing, mid-size or large organizations are the ones recruiting at a higher rate. In fact, 72% of large companies say they currently offer internship programs, and 82% said they would be seeking interns during the year.

While many small companies do offer fantastic internships (in fact, almost half are increasing their programs), make sure to look at mid-sized and large organizations for an abundance of internship or co-op opportunities. Many organizations list their internship programs online, but if it's not listed, reach out and make a connection.

2. Industry Matters

Industries with the highest percentage of organizations offering internships are oil and mining (83%); non-profits (79%); arts and entertainment (80%); and agriculture (77%). Interestingly, the education sector offers the lowest percentage at 40%. Also on the low end are retail (54%) and administration services (55%).

Yes, industry matters when it comes to internship offerings; but, even if your desired industry is on the low end, you can still find an internship or co-op to launch your career. The best approach is to reach out to companies you're interested in and ask for an informational meeting to discuss their internship program-even if they don't have one yet.

3. Location Matters

Though few differences were found across geographic regions in terms of these hiring trends, there were some notable findings. Organizations recruiting near the Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic regions had more unpaid internships than other regions (a high of 18%). The regions with the highest percentages of organizations seeking interns are: the Northeast (74%), the Great Lakes (72%) and the Northwest (72%).

Job searching in another city is difficult, but not impossible. Try to make a trip to your desired location and meet face to face with companies to build your networks. When applying to jobs in other locations, make it clear that you're willing and able to relocate for the position.

4. Money (Sometimes) Matters

The majority (66%) of organizations said they offered paid internships, while 18% offered unpaid positions and 16% offered a mix of the two. Interestingly, the amount of paid internships is lower and the amount of unpaid internships is higher than five years ago. Again, in terms of company size, very small organizations have more unpaid internships (38%) than large companies (5%).

Any full-time internship should ideally be paid; however, this is not always the reality. Unpaid internships can offer beneficial learning experiences and invaluable hands-on practice. If you have to take an unpaid internship but need an income, try negotiating the hours into a part-time unpaid gig, and work elsewhere on the side.

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Dillon Lucas

But you must acknowledge that this "hands on experience" disproportionately benefits those of a certain socioeconomic class. While I do agree that it is completely voluntary and positive experience, it is severely restricted to those that have the resources to forgo standard employment. Take the average demographic of interns at any institution and you will instantly be confronted by a blatant inequality amongst class and race. This is especially concerning when it occurs at levels of government, where the underrepresented could truly benefit by working constructively with the political system.

April 24 2012 at 12:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dillon Lucas's comment
Daniel Heredia

Dillon, you could of just said the picture to the article is inaccurate because the black guy shaking the white ladies hand is baffling

April 27 2012 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jesse Popoff

Unpaid internships are not slavery lmao you aren't forced to do it and you reap skills from your experience. I'm in one right now at the Capitol in Michigan and I can assure you I would not be able to get the opportunity to do this if they only offered paid ones.

April 22 2012 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unpaid internships are another form of slave labor. They should be banned, they are not paying taxes , ss or minimum wage..they should be ashamed of themselves.

April 10 2012 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lisa's comment

You are too short sighted, Lisa. Sometimes, hands on experience is more important than monetary return, especially for fresh graduates who have no direct contact with the real world out there in the workforce.

April 23 2012 at 3:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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