Interns and new graduates face a brighter hiring future

The Collegiate Employment Research Institute and the Career Services Network at Michigan State University recently published a study called Recruiting Trends 2010-2011. According to this study, the college segment of the labor market is about to rebound (good news), hiring is poised to increase a bit (3 %), and hiring of recent college graduates is expected to improve by an impressive (relatively speaking) 10%, according to 4,600 employers who participated in this study.

The not-so-good news is that, of the 4,600 employers who answered questions for this survey, fewer than 10% expect to actually do the hiring that makes up that 10% increase. So the key for job seekers is to zero in on those 350-400 companies that are expected to make a dent in the unemployment index.

According to the report, the companies to watch (and shower with resumes) are "large companies who are aggressively filling positions that have been open for several years" and fast growth and small companies who are expected to create new positions.

If potential employers are to be believed, they will look for the best talent, without regard to college majors. That said, business majors are expected to lead the surge, with computer science and IT students close behind. Salaries are expected to drop about 20% from pre-recession amounts, a result of this being a buyers' market as well as the fact that many of the soon-to-be employers are smaller businesses and non-profits that traditionally offer lower salaries.

The survey states that, "Students who have started their job search early, are flexible, and can express their skills and abilities in terms of how they add value to the organization will be in the best position to seize opportunities in this (still) very competitive job market. The best advice to students is: Be focused, be directed, and be connected."

Accounting hiring is expected to increase 17% this year, and finance is expected to increase 15%. Other significant increases are expected in areas of economics (22%), marketing (21%) , e-commerce/entrepreneurism (32%), environmental science (20%), public relations, (26%), and mathematics (18%).

Geographically, the greatest percentage increases in hiring are expected in the Great lakes area (13%), the Mid-Atlantic (10%), and the South Central region (8%). The greatest hiring decreases are anticipated in the Pacific Northwest (-10%).

According to the report, "Internships and co-ops remain the most strategic hiring strategy available to employers" and the proliferation of campus career fairs as a meeting ground for potential employers and employees is expected to decline as students go after jobs online and through referral sources. Sixty percent of survey respondents indicated they would be hiring interns or filling jobs with co-op employees, students who are enrolled in a cooperative job/education program in conjunction with their curriculum at a college.

Some companies have had to cut back on intern programs for reasons such as lack of funding, lack of support from upper management, insufficient time or resources to train interns, students who are not prepared to do the work, or restrictions set by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL test for unpaid interns are established to protect interns from companies that might take unfair advantage of their free workforce. In order to justify not paying an intern for work performed, a company's intern program must meet all of these criteria:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern.
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern, and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship.
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

In addition, an internship should be for a specific period of time, and there should be no promise of full employment at the end of the internship program. Employers who don't meet these requirements are expected to pay their interns at least minimum wage.

Intern Bridge provides more information on the rules for and the legality of unpaid internships.
 

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