Internships Increasingly Important in Post-Graduation Job Search

bA new report from Grace College found that unemployment has fallen about 7% for 20- to 24-year-olds. There are many reasons for upcoming college graduates to be optimistic about their job searches, but there are also noteworthy trends that should keep expectations in check and even inspire extra effort. Internships and other work-and-learn opportunities continue to be a step toward work readiness and, in many cases, job offers.

The Class of 2015 has planned ahead for the future. According to Dan Kadlec of Time, 82% of current seniors considered the availability of jobs in their field before choosing a major – a 7% increase from 2014. The Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study backs this up: 63% of 2015 grads were encouraged to pursue a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), compared to 52% of grads from 2013 and 2014. Jobs in STEM fields are often high-wage and high-demand, and STEM was the most popular major this year.

However, current job market realities are not all inviting for recent grads. Accenture found that 85% of the Class of 2015 expects to earn more than $25,000 per year out of the gate. But right now, 41% of the Classes of 2013 and 2014 earns $25,000 or less per year and nearly half of that group considers themselves underemployed.

Despite these trends, internships are one of the greatest reasons the Class of 2015 should feel confident as they begin their careers. Along with online and offline networking opportunities, internships can help graduates maximize their chances of landing a job. According to Accenture, 72% of current seniors participated in an internship during college. The reason for optimism? Nearly half of prior-year graduates found a job as a result of an internship, apprenticeship or co-op.

Internships have become less of a “bonus” on young professionals’ résumés and more of a necessity. Real-world work experience coupled with network building make experiential learning opportunities critical for students. That’s why it is so important for Indiana employers to offer structured, experiential opportunities and strong mentorship for tomorrow’s workforce.

Indiana INTERNnet exists to help increase the number and quality of internships throughout the state and connect employers with prospective interns. With all the statistics in mind, this work is key not only for each individual’s professional growth, but for strengthening Indiana’s future workforce, business climate and economy.

Check out this small sampling of stories about internships that led to full-time jobs on Indiana INTERNnet’s blog: Paige Prather; Lucas Hill; Chris Jones; Casey Spivey, and yours truly

Indiana INTERNnet is the catalyst for expanding the creation and use of experiential learning opportunities as a key strategy in retaining Indiana’s top talent. The online resource,, provides valuable information and tools to assist Indiana employers with their internship programs. Its searchable database links employers with thousands of individuals seeking internships. Register for your free account, post your internships and begin connecting with potential candidates today.

Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

In strong economic times, most college graduates quickly enter the workforce, utilize their skills to move up within their organizations and advance to leadership positions — either at their original company or elsewhere. (I hope that is the case with a daughter soon to finish her college career at DePauw).

In today's reality, that isn't always the way it works. In a worst-case scenario, one might need the following assistance through an article titled: "The Recent Grad's Guide to Surviving Layoffs." After taking care of some necessary financial matters, there is very sound advice (condensed below) on turning a layoff into "an opportunity rather than a catastrophe." The full article is available here.

And there is always the Indiana Chamber's Indiana INTERNnet program to guide you through the world of internships.

Obtain Additional Education

  •  Certification Program: If finances and your personal circumstances permit, you may take this opportunity to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in your industry. Additional certifications will build on the experience you already have and make you a more competitive candidate for a new position.
  •  Graduate School: Some master’s programs require students to have worked in the industry before returning to school; viewed positively, this could be a golden opportunity. Full-time graduate students may defer student loan obligations and may also be eligible for more financial aid. Attending an online school may also be an attractive option.
  • Federal Job Training Programs: The federal government has resources in place for unemployed individuals to acquire additional training. Funds that assist dislocated workers are available through CareerOneStop, a service provided by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

 Stay Active in Your Industry

  •  Use Your Former Employer as a Resource: While it may seem counterintuitive, staying in contact with your former employer can unearth opportunities to network that you may not have expected. Ask if outplacement services are offered, and follow up if so.
  •  Tap Into Your Network: Reach out to friends and colleagues and explain your situation in simple terms; there is no social stigma to being laid off and no need to be embarrassed. Using social media tools can help you reach people you otherwise would never have met.
  •  Be an Industry Insider: If cost is not prohibitive, attend industry events like conferences, trade shows or seminars. You will continue to build your contact list, keep your face in front of people who have the potential to hire you, and learn new skills at the same time.
  •  Continue to Read, Research, and Learn: As you search for new employment, keep up on industry news by subscribing to trade publications or attending association meetings.

 Create Opportunities to Gain Work Experience

  •  Part-Time Work: Consider part-time work, possibly from the company that laid you off in the first place. The concept of Survivor Demotions often doesn’t occur to employers; if you’re about to lose your salaried position, ask if you can take a demotion to a lower-level job in the company or perform your old job on a part-time basis.
  •  Work Share: In some states, companies that are downsizing are willing to implement work-sharing programs. Rather than eliminating jobs in the workforce, these companies reduce the hours and benefits of a group of workers. These workers are still eligible for partial unemployment insurance, and therefore don’t experience a loss in income until unemployment resources end.
  •  Contract Positions: Temporary or contract positions also provide experience and help you meet new people in influential positions.
  •  Volunteer: Using your unique skills in a volunteer position can increase your networking opportunities while you perform a good deed. Unpaid internships may also lead to new business contacts or a full-time position.



New to the Business World? Some Tips on Getting Hired

Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential, LLC and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring, provides some useful advice to our future leaders of commerce:

Myers suggests the following five job-seeking tips parents can impart to their new college graduate:

1. The Most Qualified Job Candidate Does Not Necessarily Get the Job Offer. In today’s difficult job market, strong qualifications and accomplishments are necessary. However, the candidate who will get the job is the one who self-markets and demonstrates to the employer that she is the best fit for the company’s needs, problems and challenges.

2. Research Your Way to Success. Pay attention to local, regional and national sources of business intelligence. Study everything you can about the companies you’re most interested in. Learn to frame your ideas and value in terms that are relevant to the current business and economic landscape.

3. Networking is More Important Than You Think. The best jobs are not obtained through Web sites or help wanted ads. They are acquired through networking. Adopt the discipline of blocking-out time on your calendar for networking activities — now and for the duration of your career.

4. An Employer’s Offer is Never Its Best Offer. You might be tempted to take any job offer in a tight economy. Yet employers expect that you’ve done your salary research, and they anticipate having dynamic negotiations with you. In fact, if you don’t negotiate, the employer will likely be disappointed in you as a candidate.

5. Graduating from School is the Beginning of Your Education, Not the End. No company wants to hire someone whose base of knowledge is not current. As a professional, you should continuously build your credentials that will make you more attractive and marketable as a candidate.

Indianapolis Named Top City for Recent Grads

CNN reports that according to and, our capital city was named the top city for recent college graduates. Here is the list and criteria:

The list is based on the ranking of the top U.S. cities with the highest concentration of young adults (age 20 – 24) from the U.S. Census Bureau (2006), inventory of jobs requiring less than one year of experience from (2009) and the average cost of rent for a one bedroom apartment from (2009).

1. Indianapolis
Average rent (1 bedroom):* $625
Popular entry-level categories from Careerbuilder: sales, customer service, health care

2. Philadelphia
Average rent: $1,034
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, management

3. Baltimore
Average rent: $1,130
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, health care

4. Cincinnati
Average rent: $691
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, health care

5. Cleveland
Average rent: $686
Popular entry-level categories: sales, marketing, customer service

6. New York
Average rent: $1,548
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, admin-clerical

7. Phoenix
Average rent: $747
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, marketing

8. Denver
Average rent: $877
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, health care

9. Chicago
Average rent: $1,133
Popular entry-level categories: sales, marketing, customer service

10. San Antonio
Average rent: $696
Popular entry-level categories: sales, customer service, management 

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Ashton Eller.