Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Internship Fair At Champlain College

Champlain College fair links interns, businesses
Champlain College Internship Fair.
(photo by Stephen Mease | Champlain College)
If you hadn't noticed, many career paths these days begin with an internship -- more than one, likely as not.
So, Champlain College's Fall Internship Fair, held Monday afternoon, has become a staple event for students planning their futures. More than 60 companies and nonprofits -- from Fort Ticonderoga to Champlain Chocolates -- were on hand to discuss internship prospects, and some of them were represented by interns.
Caitlin Golub, a Champlain College senior and communications major, was at the table for the Women's Rape Crisis Center, where she's interning this fall. Her temporary role in the organization? Helping to plan special events, such as Mardi Gras or Take Back the Night. She previously did an internship with Vermont Commons and expects to do other internships in the spring and summer.
Champlain College
 Internship Fair. 
(photo by Stephen Mease |
 Champlain College)
"Experience is key," she said.
If she wants more special-events experience, she might consider applying for the spring internship with Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. Welch is looking for someone to organize the Congressional Art Competition among Vermont high school students.
At the door, one of the women checking in visitors to the fair was an intern herself. Rachel Perras, a senior majoring in social working, is interning this fall for the college's Career Services department, doing research and setting up workshops. Career Services organized the event, which was open to students from other colleges.
"I tweaked my resume for this fair," Perras said. "A lot of the employers are the same as those at the job fair in the spring."
Some internships lead to paying jobs. That's what happened to Josh Kirkpatrick, who worked on Internet marketing as an intern for Pete's RV Center before he graduated from Champlain College in May. That was his third internship, but it did the trick.
Champlain College Internship Fair. 
(photo by Stephen Mease | Champlain College)
Now Kirkpatrick is an employee of Pete's, focusing on search engine optimization and social media marketing. And there he was Monday afternoon, soliciting more interns for Pete's.
For many Champlain College students, internships are a curricular requirement for their major field of study. Some students line up internships even when they're not required, just to gain the experience. In a down economy when jobs are scarce, even unpaid internships are in demand.
"To get a job out of college is really tough," said Dayna Comeau, a junior majoring in graphic design. "If you can get your foot in the door and build up your resume, you have a better chance of getting a paying job."
That's what Justin Keskin is thinking. He's a senior majoring in graphic design who has done two unpaid internships and is looking to line up another for the spring, and yet another for the summer.
"A lot of jobs require years of experience out of college," he said. "It's tough. It's looking like another internship after graduation."
A decade ago, Champlain students were more typically finding jobs before they graduated, said Daphne Walker, assistant director of Career Services. "Now they realize they're expected to do as many internships as they can."
Not all the fair-goers were youngsters. Some were middle-aged people changing careers. Tim Schonholtz, for example, is a student in Champlain's continuing professional studies program, studying Web development. He's 48 years old and hoping to land an internship.
"The value of an internship is to build on your course work and what you've learned in school," he said.
Champlain College Internship Fair. 
(photo by Stephen Mease | Champlain College)
Curricular internships are vetted by ChamplainCollege faculty. Other unpaid internships have another form of quality assurance -- standards issued last year by the U.S. Department of Labor, among them: "The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern," and "The intern does not displace regular employees."
Emma Interlandi, operations manager for Democracy in America, a political advocacy organization, said drudge work was not on the agenda. The organization has 20 paid staffers and about that many interns in the summer.
"We take interns all year," she said. "There's no getting coffee and making copies. We consider them equals."
Contact Tim Johnson at 660-1808 or tjohnson@burlingtonfreepress.com. Follow Tim on Twitter a twww.twitter.com/flyonthe.

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