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Summer Internships: Employers Hiring More College Students in 2012

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A summer internship during college is an excellent way to gain real-world work experience and might even help you get your foot in the door with a prospective future employer.

Applying for internships can get incredibly competitive, so students will be happy to learn that the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that employers expect to hire more college students for summer internships this year.

Employers that participated in NACE’s 2012 Internship & Co-op Survey from November 11, 2011 to January 13, 2012 reported plans to hire over 40,000 interns this year, an impressive increase in internship hiring of 8.5% over last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. A NACE press release issued on February 28 clarified that survey participants included 280 NACE-member organizations that hire college students for internships—mostly large firms that recruit on college campuses, the WSJ explained.

NACE also reports that a larger number of internships this year will be paid internships—only 4.2 percent of survey respondents reported having any unpaid internships, a decrease from last year’s 7.1 percent. The projected average hourly rate for bachelor’s degree-seeking interns in 2012 is roughly $16 per hour, but WSJ cautions that companies operating with tight budgets may opt to hire part-time interns rather than full-time (better-paid) employees.

How to Get a Summer Internship

There are dozens of benefits of a summer internship. Not only will it be a resume-boost for your post-college job search, an internship can help you ensure that you really want to work in the field you’re studying. Depending on your college’s policies, they may even count for college credit and in some cases, interns are hired for full-time positions after graduation.

If you’re interested in landing a summer internship, it’s a good idea to secure a position as early as possible. “Don’t wait until the last minute,” marketing executive Melanie Fish of Enviromedia Social Marketing in Austin, TX cautions. “Don’t call the week before you want an internship to start and ask if we have an internship program,” she tells the Austin Statesman.

CBS Moneywatch feels that the old adage “It’s who you know, not what you know” is partially true in terms of internships. You can search and apply for internships online, but networking still plays a huge role in most job searches. Don’t be embarrassed—ask around! Let your professor know you’re interested in interning, meet with the career services office at your college, talk to your parents’ friends, tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook that you’re looking for an internship. (Be sure to clean up those online profiles first, though! You never know who can see pictures of you in compromising situations, and many companies search social media platforms before hiring.)

Avoid Internship Scams

It’s also a good idea to be on the lookout for internship scams, which unfortunately do exist. Marymount University urges job- and internship-seekers to watch for these warning signs:

  • The promise of a large salary for little work
  • Internship applications that ask for a credit card number or personal documents
  • Positions which offer payments to allow the use of your bank account

Getting the Internship

If you’re lucky enough to be called in for an internship interview, it’s time to act like the professional that you are. Practice holding mock interviews with a friend or parent and ensure that you’re comfortable discussing yourself and your studies.

The Austin Statesman also stresses that learning about the companies where you’d like to intern is crucial for your own success. “For us, it’s really impressive if a student knows about us when they come in,” Haley Cihock, a producer at local NBC affiliate KXAN told the newspaper. “They’ve been paying attention, and that tells me they’re really interested.”

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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