Most students counting down the days to Thanksgiving break are looking forward to food, friends and sleep, but Marianna Savoca, director of the Career Center at Stony Brook, said that students hoping to secure an internship for the summer should use the break to jumpstart their plans.

“Be intentional about your Thanksgiving and winter breaks,” Savoca said in an email. “You can make connections and potentially interview while you are home, especially if you live far from campus and cannot do so during the school year.“

Savoca said that students should, at the very least, start to look over their resumés. If students see a gap in their experience, they can use the time during winter or spring break to participate in something that would improve their marketability.

According to a recent study by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE), 58.6 of employers who responded converted their class of 2011 interns into full-time employees and added that they expect to increase their internship hires in the next year.

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Landing an internship, then, can be an important step toward entering one’s desired field after graduation, which many students worry about in the time of a slowly recovering economy.

In the latest jobs report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Nov. 2, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 7.9 in October as compared to 7.8 in September. The reason the unemployment rate increased, though, is a positive one—more people joined the labor force. Additionally, 171,000 jobs were added.

Last month’s unemployment rate was notable, as it dipped below eight percent for the first time in nearly four years. While many found that figure encouraging, there was speculation in the media that, perhaps, the numbers had been skewed to help President Obama before the election.

Michael Zweig, an economics professor and founder and director of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at Stony Brook, said that the numbers were not illegitimate, though.

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“It has nothing to do with the political needs of the administration,” Zweig said in a phone interview. “The BLS doesn’t operate that way and hasn’t operated that way for any president.”

In the latest report, the BLS also revised employment gains for August and September from 142,000 to 192,000 and 114,000 to 148,000 respectively. This, plus the fact that October’s unemployment rate remained at less than eight percent, indicates that the economy is continuing on its path to recovery, perhaps at an even faster rate than previously calculated.

“When they revise upward, it indicates that things are getting stronger faster than had earlier been anticipated,” Zweig said.

Savoca advised students to combat the relatively weak economy and land internships by simply starting to look for them.

ZebraNet, various job websites, professional associations, family and friends are all good resources when searching for internships, Savoca said.

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“We have had several companies recruiting for next summer’s internships already,” Savoca said in an email, citing companies like GE Transportation, Google, Travelers Insurance and JPMorgan Chase.

Savoca said that an internship is an “opportunity to test-drive a career idea, apply what you’re learning in class to real world problems, hone your skills and learn new ones that are valued by employers, meet professionals in your field, acquire mentors, get recommendations for your future, and understand the field from the inside.”

And while the biggest, most competitive companies have already been recruiting, Savoca said that many more will continue to post job opportunities to ZebraNet or visit campus in the coming months and during the spring semester.

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