The most recent recession has increased students’ anxieties about finding internships and jobs. Career and Placement Services (CAPS) counselors have been particularly busy this year helping students look for summer internships and post-graduate jobs, according to Ted Boles, public relations and marketing manager at CAPS.
“Students have to be more aggressive and creative now,” Boles said. “I’m not an economist, but our students are very concerned and worried, and they shouldn’t be.” The economy was in a recession until just recently, when experts announced that an upturn is in sight.
Although the recession may be over, many students in the job and internship market are still facing its effects. “The economy is now a popular topic in the media, and it is affecting students at the University of Chicago only slightly,” Boles said.
Boles stressed that Metcalf internships, which are paid internships in many fields and available only to University students, are an under-utilized option for students regardless of the state of the economy. “Students aren’t applying for them,” he said.
According to Boles, it is difficult to judge whether students have opted this year for programs like Teach for America and the PeaceCorps instead of positions in the for-profit sector, since every year students apply for many different types of internships.
“It has been hard,” said Mariangela Anzalone, a first-year in the College. “I want to be paid and there are not a lot of paid internships available in government or law. It seems like a lot more were paid in past years.”
Despite the negative prospects, students are still finding internships. Michael Delcour, a third-year economics concentrator in the College, was interested in landing an internship in lobbying and government. “It is absolutely hard to find internships this year,” he said.
Delcour has found a summer internship through contacts in the applicable fields.
“I am definitely less optimistic about finding jobs and internships [this year],” said Albert Yu, a fourth-year anthropology concentrator in the College. According to Yu, there is increased pressure on applicants because more people are applying to fewer positions, and that generally there are fewer internships available than there was last year in museum work, non-profit sectors and political work.
However, according to some students, this year there are fewer opportunities available in financial fields as well. “The people at CAPS are very helpful; they have good ideas, but they can’t change the economy,” said one third-year economics concentrator.
Despite the decreased immediate availability of jobs, the promise of an end to the recession change the students’ outlook. “Ultimately, there’s an optimism,” Yu said. “The sluggish economy is definitely not permanent.”
Officials at CAPS see an end to both the sluggishness of the economy and the internship market. “Fall internship opportunities were slow but it has picked up this quarter,” Boles said.
CAPS is planning a non-profit job fair for spring quarter, at which Boles said that some groups will be hiring at higher than usual rates, although there may be fewer groups represented. This news comes after a fall quarter job fair with a poorer turnout than expected. “There were probably a third of the companies there this year compared to last year,” said an economics concentrator.