Internships Offer Real-World Experience in Tough Job Market

As numerous reports point to layoffs and lower salaries, soon-to-be IT graduates are bracing themselves for a tight job market in 2009. Many, it seems, are turning to internships and co-op programs to gain real-world experience before securing their first full-time jobs.

Perhaps as a result, internship programs have become a major recruiting mechanism in recent years, said Edwin Koc, director of strategic and foundation research for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

“The real radical transformation occurred around 2005,” he said. “What happened is that a lot of companies decided that the college recruiting market became very competitive. It became a seller’s market when students got multiple offers. Firms started to place more of an emphasis on trying to get to these potential graduates earlier. Internships became a recruiting mechanism more than just cheap labor.”

For example, Purdue University and TechLift, an Ohio-based firm, have started the Interns for Entrepreneurship Northeast Ohio Program to match students with regional start-up tech firms. The internship program expands Purdue’s successful Interns for Indiana initiative, which launched in 2005. Through that program, 347 Purdue students were matched with internships with 140 Indiana start-up companies.

According to NACE’s “2008 Experiential Education Survey,” the percentage of interns who received job offers resulting from their internships was 56 percent in 2001; in 2008, that was 70 percent. Further, a recent survey of IT hiring managers by CareerBuilder.com found that 82 percent plan to hire recent college graduates this year.

Anand Chopra-McGowan, CEO of…


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