Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nature of internships changing

The difficult economy and the U.S. Department of Labor are changing the nature of internships.

Human resource, career specialists and educators say internships are still a valuable route to experience, getting to know potential employers and letting potential employers get to know interns as prospective employees.

But a tough job market also has spilled over into competition for internships, and federal rules issued this spring have paved the way for what some say eventually will be a requirement that all internships be paid.

“There’s some gray areas in there regarding that,” said Tammy Craig, director of the Career Development Center at the University of Illinois Springfield.

Craig said the marketplace still offers plenty of internship and volunteer opportunities, but the economy has made a difference.

“This also has been brought to the attention of the Fair Labor Standards Act. There are criteria that have to be met, and because of the economic downturn, employers are wanting to do more unpaid internships,” said Craig.

Even so, she said a record number of employers have signed up this year for an Aug. 26 “Foot in the Door” fair at UIS that concentrates on local internships, volunteer opportunities and part-time work.

“It really is worth doing. It’s the new way to test out potential employees,” said Craig.

Craig's comments were featured in a August 15, 2010, article in The State Journal-Register.

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