It’s no secret that experience is one of the best ways to gain professional skills. And one of the best ways to gain experience is through internships, which allow students to see the concepts and techniques they’ve learned about put into practice. According to CompTIA, opportunities for IT internships are on the rise and will likely continue to grow.
The organization conducted a recent study that showed 49.3 percent of 429 organizations surveyed plan to hire summer interns for their IT departments this year. “The good news is that it’s trending upward,” said Gretchen Koch, director of CompTIA’s skills development. She also heads up its Education to Careers program. “It’s up six points year-over-year. Additionally, almost 20 percent of the organizations that said they were planning on doing this are bringing on 10 or more interns, which is really great.”
Koch added that the poll results were reflective of all the other good news about IT that has come to the fore of late. However, the positive state of the industry hasn’t necessarily made it to the general public yet. “IT hiring is up and IT salaries are up, particularly for those with certification,” she said. “There has been so much concern, and there’s a misperception that IT is dead because of all of the news about offshoring. We are encouraging our membership to offer things like internships to get the word out that IT is in fact alive and well.
“Actually, when you look at the data from surveys by Robert Half and others that consistently check the pulse and ask questions about what kinds of jobs companies are hiring for, the thing that we note are the entry-level type jobs like help desk. It’s always being cited as the kind of work that’s gone away to India and China. Well, that’s not the case. That’s the kind of perception that needs to be changed.”
Internship programs are important because in addition to teaching them fundamental technology skills, they serve as a counterweight to gloom-and-doom media pronouncements about IT. Koch said CompTIA planned to get more involved by developing programs that promote internships among its member organizations. “That’s certainly on the horizon. We are particularly interested in entry-level opportunities for kids who are studying at high schools, community colleges and general post-secondary levels. We would love to get programs, particularly in urban areas, for kids who are at the high school level.”
She mentioned the possibility of launching such a program in the Chicago Public Schools in the near future. “We’ve worked very closely with Charles Willard, who’s the program manager for their IT program. He has kids completing A+ in their sophomore year, Network+ in their junior year and either iNet+ or Server+ in their senior year. His goal is to have all of those children receive those certifications, so that by the time they’re in their senior year, they have two industry certifications and are working on a third. They’d be excellent candidates for internships as PC technicians or laptop technicians at a Best Buy or CompUSA. That’s the sort of thing we’d love to start as a pilot here in Chicago with some large vendors who can’t get enough people for these jobs,” Koch explained.
For more information, see http://www.comptia.org.