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Paid Internships in a Bad Economy

Published: Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 15:12

College students face many challenges during their education, not least of which is the question of whether to take paying jobs or internship work.  Students need relevant experience during their college careers to set themselves apart from the competition and prove their worth in any given field. But they also need money to support themselves.


The main issue for most students is trying to fuse these two concepts into one doubly beneficial package: a paid internship.  In some majors, such as science, health and education, a paid internship is practically unheard of, and seldom seen, according to Ana Maria Schuhmann and Sandra DeYoung, deans of Education and Science and Health, respectively.


For those in fields such as business and communication, it's traditionally easier to find internships that pay, but these days students face hardships unheard of in the earlier part of the decade. 


The faltering economy has forced most businesses to either stop paying their interns or discontinue their internship programs altogether.  In turn, students have been forced into juggling full-time class schedules, part-time internships for relevant experience and part-time paying jobs for survival.  In all this, where does a college student find the time to do anything but work?   


There is some help, though, for those seeking pay in exchange for relevant experience.  In tough times such as these, experts say there is one way to succeed above the rest: think outside the box.  


Lorra Brown, professor of public relations at WPU, has a few ideas for those looking for experience that can stack their resumes for life after graduation.  Her top advice: stop applying for internships.


In the recession, it's become the fashion for companies to stop paying their interns.  Even those companies that have the resources are taking advantage of a slim job market to cut back where they can, and that leaves college students in the lurch.  The solution, according to Brown, is to apply for part time work in a company relevant to your career goals.


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