Many college students spend their senior year sending out a massive number of resumes, going to frequent interviews and anxiously hoping that they will receive a job offer before graduation.
But there are some lucky students who manage to avoid this mess.
Matt Raymond-Ihle just graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He spent his last year stress free, knowing he already had a job lined up after graduation.
"It made senior year a blast," Raymond-Ihle said.
The 22-year-old from Roscoe, Illinois, is one of many accounting, finance, economics and management information systems majors nationwide that are being actively recruited by major consulting and accounting firms.
He was offered a job last summer after finishing an internship with Protiviti Inc., a rapidly growing, five-year-old provider of independent risk consulting and internal audit services whose largest office is in Chicago.
The growing company's revenues for 2006 were at $543 million, an increase of $64 million from the previous year. From 650 employees its first year, Protiviti has expanded to 2,900 in more than 50 offices worldwide.
With the industry in growth mode, the demand for good talent has risen, said Jessica Harrison, head of the Protiviti intern task force.
Internships have become a main recruiting function in the company's constant search for new talent. Last summer, Protiviti accepted 101 student interns; this summer the number has risen to 155 nationwide.
Interns receive real life work experiences as full-time consultants, exposure to different clients and a variety of travel opportunities.
This summer's interns arrived last week at Itasca, IL's Eaglewood Resort and Spa for a weeklong training program to ensure that all of the interns receive a consistent message and to build a national camaraderie, Harrison said.
After completing the school, interns go to offices around the country for the duration of the summer program. Many are offered full-time positions after completing their last day.
Harrison calls the internships a feeder program that supplies Protiviti with new talent. "There's always a huge demand for that talent," she said. "We're definitely competing with the Big Four."
KPMG, for example, is expecting more than 1,500 interns this summer, up from a few hundred at the beginning of the decade, said Simon Kho, director of national student programs. Like Protiviti, it holds a weeklong, national intern school, this year in Orlando, Fla.
"Our goal is that 95 percent of our interns will join us full-time after their programs," he added.
So how does a relatively small company like Protiviti hold its own against the giants?
Interns at this year's school credit the personal attention they receive as a key deciding factor in choosing the company.
Indiana University student Elizabeth Voss, 21, of Lisle, IL said Protiviti representatives were very involved in campus recruiting and portrayed themselves as enthusiastic, innovative and professional. "That's what caught my attention," she said.
Fellow Indiana University student Joel Mintun, 23, of Indianapolis said Protiviti representatives were personable, friendly, and hosted many social events. "They impressed me every time I saw them," he added.
Protiviti pairs each intern with a mentor and a buddy. University of Illinois student Kelly Maynard, 21, of Lake Zurich, IL praised her mentor for contacting her right away.
Raymond-Ihle said he could call a number of Protiviti's employees, including Harrison, anytime for support.
"I had a core group of people in the company I could go to," he said.
After the last day of his internship, Raymond-Ihle had a meeting with his location's managing director, who offered him a full-time position. He begins his job on Aug. 14 at a Chicago location.
What ultimately pushed him to accept the offer?
"I really love the people," he said.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Herald, Arlington Heights, IL