Posted: Tuesday Mar 13, 2012
March 5, 2012
Saint Vincent College’s internship program is paying off for a growing number of students who are working to acquire career-related skills, earn academic credit and develop a professional network for future employment contacts.
The number of internships has more than doubled during the past five years from 154 in 2006-2007 to 324 this year, according to Courtney Baum, director of the career center at Saint Vincent. “We had a small decrease in 2009 that was probably due to the economy, but otherwise internship opportunities have rebounded impressively and our students are taking advantage of them.”
Even more impressive than the increased internship participation are the number of paid internships, including some of which are very lucrative. “Although we have internships which are unpaid or minimum wage, we also have some that are paying more than $19 per hour,” noted Christine Sundry, internship coordinator. “Most of our interns are paid an average wage that falls between minimum wage and $10 plus some stipends and other mixes of benefits. Students earned a total of $332,000 this year – nearly $100,000 more than last year.”
In addition to the internships which are initiated and coordinated by the career center staff, other students pursue internships with companies or organizations at their out-of-area homes or with companies that are related to their family or friends. “It makes it difficult to track their success but we are happy that they see the value of completing one or more practical experiences,” Ms. Sundry added.
Internship sites include positions at small companies and organizations like the Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce and Kelly, Sparber, White and Associates Certified Public Accountants to larger firms such as Kennametal Inc., Westinghouse, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Allegheny General Hospital, UPMC, Adelphoi USA and Booz Allen Hamilton. Students also like high profile sites such as Pittsburgh Steelers, WTAE-TV, KDKA-TV, Washington Wild Things, Altoona Curve and Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Students in all majors, schools and programs are encouraged to pursue internships.
The Saint Vincent career center emphasizes the importance of a consistent and professional personal image. “We remind students to be careful with what they post on their Facebook or LinkedIn pages, what they use as an email address, and other public displays of information,” Ms. Baum noted. “Internships ultimately lead to many job opportunities so we encourage students to think about the details of how they look and act, especially since clothing, tattoos, piercings, rings, voicemail messages and other factors can make the difference between success and failure. Appropriate, conservative clothing and personal appearance are always good choices.”
The career center supports the academic and professional growth of each student by offering services that assist in forming career goals, attaining practical experience and finding suitable employment or acceptance into graduate or professional school programs. The center helps students transform their liberal arts foundation into practical skills and successful careers, while serving as an internal resource to students and faculty and as an external partner to employers, post-secondary institutions and the Latrobe area community.
Photo: Career Center administrators Christine Sundry, left, and Courtney Baum assist Saint Vincent College students in preparing for successful internships.