Updated 05/14/2012 07:02 PM
More college grads taking unpaid internships
Graduation season is in full swing and college graduates are looking toward their future. For some, that means it's off to work or grad school, but the economy is causing more and more to take a different route. Sarah Blazonis reports.
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ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. -- They walked away with diplomas in hand, but when asked, "What's next?" a number of new Syracuse University grads said they plan to go after something usually thought of as student-only territory: An internship.
"There are a lack of internships, let alone anything that's paid right now, in my opinion. So it'll be difficult," said Joshua Klein, who graduated from SU on Sunday.
Career services officials say unpaid internships can seem like a way for those without job offers to get their foot in the door. More and more Hamilton College students are taking that route.
"They will offer a student the opportunity to intern for six or eight or ten or even 12 weeks and in many cases, that becomes a big, long job interview," said Mary Evans, executive director of the Maurice Horowitch Career Center at Hamilton College.
They may not be ideal, but career services officials say post-graduation internships are a growing trend nationwide and there are steps students can take to make the most out of their experience.
"Talk to the employer about, 'This is what I would like to learn, this is what I would like to develop, this is what I can bring to you.' Because a lot of times, employers really don't know that," said Edward Pulaski, director of Career Services at Utica College.
Networking is also key. Even if interns don't walk away with an offer immediately, connections could open doors in the future.
They're opportunities that could become more difficult to come by. Officials say some companies are tightening restrictions that require interns to earn credits for a degree when they're not getting paid.
"I think as the Department of Labor starts to ratchet things down, you're going to have students and young alumni really take a serious look at how they're doing it," said Teresa Olsen, interim director for Career Services at Colgate University.
And grads will have to keep one step ahead of the economy when planning their future.
Career services officials also remind graduates not to panic if they don't have a job lined up right out of school. Hamilton College says only 20 percent of the Class of 2011 had job offers at graduation. Less than a year later, that number had jumped to 72 percent. Numbers from Colgate also show 74 percent of its students were working a year after graduation.