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More Summer Jobs, Internships Predicted

by May 8, 2012, 5:47 pm ET

With final exams underway at colleges across the U.S., it’s only a matter of weeks before the first of millions of young Millennials will be out of school for the summer. Will they have jobs?

The answer is a resounding, “Maybe.”

The National Association of Colleges and Employers says employers expect to hire more new grads this year than last, and the hiring picture has even improved since early last fall. The organization’s spring survey update found employers are planning to increase their grad hiring by 10.2 percent over last year. In the fall survey, the increase was 9.5 percent.

CareerBuilder reports that 54 percent of the companies it surveyed plan to hire from this year’s graduating class. That represents a 17 percent improvement over last year’s results.

Students looking for internships should also have an easier time. Another NACE survey found intern hiring plans are up 8.5 percent over last year. Not surprisingly, the best salaries will go to students in engineering and computer science programs. They’ll earn, on average, $20.79 and $19.10 respectively, says NACE.

Some companies — Google, for instance — pay far above the average, one reason they made last week’s top 20 list from Glassdoor. Based on ratings from recent interns, the lists shows starting salaries as high as $6,746 a month for a research intern at Microsoft, which ranked just behind Google.

Prospects are also better for teenagers who want summer jobs. The hourly job board SnagAJob says more than half of respondents to its annual summer job survey indicate that they would be hiring teens this year. The numbers are expected to be about the same as last year, which was a little less than 1.1 million jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even though only 10 percent of the surveyed hiring managers told SnagAJob they’d be upping their headcount, competition for the jobs is likely to be easier than at any time since the recession began at the end of 2007. Two developments account for that:

  1. There are fewer older students hunting for work who have been competing with teens for the same jobs. Last month, there were 360,000 more 20-24 years employed than in April 2011. It’s also nearly 800,000 more than in April 2010.
  2. Fewer teens are looking for work. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the global outplacement firm, says its analysis of BLS data “reveals that more and more teenagers are opting out of the labor force entirely and have no desire to seek employment.” “The number of 16- to 19-year-olds not wanting a job has increased steadily since 1994,” says the firm.

“However, even with more teenagers dropping out of the labor force, competition will remain fierce,” says John Challenger, CEO of the firm. “Right now, there are about 1.3 million unemployed 16- to 19-year-olds who are looking for work. There are probably an additional 1.1 to 1.2 million who have stopped looking for work, but still want a job. Not to mention, the competition from older, more experienced applicants, including retirees who are seeking low-skilled, low-pressure jobs to supplement their retirement income.”

Meanwhile, college students who find paid internships hard or impossible to find, are increasingly turning to unpaid work just for the experience and the opportunity to list it on a resume. Another reason for the willingness to work for free may be found in NACE’s 2012 Internship & Co-op Survey: 61 percent of employers make full-time offers to their interns and 87 percent are accepted.

As eager as otherwise unemployed students may be to work for free, the courts and the U.S. Department of Labor look askance at the practice. It’s legal, but only under very specific rules, which, as a recent  New York Times article observes, are largely unenforced. Nonetheless, the DOL does have a six-point test to determine whether an intern must be paid.

However, as a Hastings Law Journal article notes, “the current state of the law as applied to unpaid internships is extremely convoluted and unclear.”

Still, employers would be wise to monitor their unpaid internships to ensure they follow the rules as closely as possible. The Department of Labor may not come knocking, but increasingly, interns are filing suit to recover wages and overtime. In February, Harper’s Bazaar was sued by a former intern, who claims, “Unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees.”

Image: graur razvan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank John. Hot off the digital press:

    http://www.wbur.org/npr/152354154/college-grads-struggle-to-gain-financial-footing

    Morning Edition
    NPRCollege Grads Struggle To Gain Financial Footing

    By Jennifer Ludden
    May 10, 2012, 2:54 AM

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    Graduates of the University of Alabama’s class of 2011. The economic downturn has hit recent college grads hard. New data show only half of those who graduated from 2006 to 2011 are working full time. (Butch Dill / AP)

    Most of the estimated 1.5 million people graduating from a four-year college this spring will soon be looking for a job.

    If the experiences of other recent college grads are any guide, many will be disappointed.

    A new Rutgers University survey of those who graduated from college between 2006 and 2011 finds that just half of those grads are working full time.
    “I thought I wasn’t going to get a job. I was happy to have one part-time job.
    –Caitlin Lacour, 2011 College Graduate

    Settling For Part Time

    “I thought I wasn’t going to get a job,” says Caitlin LaCour, who entered Columbia College Chicago the year the most recent recession began. By the time she graduated in 2011, she says, “I was happy to have one part-time job.”

    LaCour also felt lucky that the job, doing promotions for a Chicago radio station, related to her major in radio production. But she earns just $10 an hour. By the time she had to start making payments on her $100,000 student loan debt, LaCour realized her paycheck would not be nearly enough.

    She took on a second part-time job at a shoe store, and then a third, also at the radio station.

    “I got addicted to working,” LaCour says. “I just burned myself out, because I didn’t want to have to worry about not being able to pay my loans.”

    LaCour must pay more than $700 each month in student loans, and the only way she can make the payments is by living rent-free with her parents.

    It’s a situation that’s come to symbolize graduating post-recession.

    More Have Debt Than Have Jobs

    “More come out with debt than come out with jobs,” says Cliff Zukin, a senior research fellow with the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.

    The center’s new study finds that 6 in 10 students take on debt — more than $20,000 on average — even as a lack of jobs leaves them less able to pay it back.

    “In the data,” Zukin says, “there’s certainly a suggestion that the American dream has stopped at these guys’ doorstep.”

    Zukin says nearly half of college graduates with full-time work are in jobs that don’t require a college degree. And very few respondents say their first job will lead to a career. In fact, one-third of recent college grads say they no longer believe education combined with hard work will necessarily lead to success.

    “They don’t even see in the foreseeable future a secure job, a comfortable income, starting a family,” he says. “And even more — 45 percent — do not see owning a home at any point in the near future.”

    Moreover, Zukin notes, this survey depicts the “cream of the crop” — the minority of young Americans who go to college. Unemployment is far higher among those who don’t.

    Long-Term Impact

    The Rutgers study finds that one-fifth of recent college grads have gone back to school — where many are now accumulating more debt.

    Meanwhile, those respondents who got jobs since the recession began are making less than their peers who graduated in 2006 and 2007.

    The difference amounts to “about 10 percent lower earnings,” says Columbia University economist Till von Wachter. His research indicates that the depressed earnings can last a decade or more, although that effect can vary.

    An engineering grad from a top school, for example, can job-hop and get back to a higher earning level in three or four years, von Wachter says. But “students who come from smaller, less-well-known schools and have majors such as humanities or arts — they tend to have depressed career paths lasting for a very long time.”

    Indeed, given the current job market, many respondents to the Rutgers survey now say they wish they had majored in something else.

    Researcher Cliff Zukin wonders if it’s the end of the happy, self-confident “millennial generation.”

    But while the Rutgers study may be sobering, many recent grads still retain a sense of optimism.

    “I love the people I work with. I love my customers. I’m a people person,” says Tiffany Conner, who graduated in 2009 and is now working, by choice, in two part-time retail jobs.

    After college, Conner landed a full-time job in her field of marketing. But the work didn’t make her happy, so she quit and moved back in with her parents in Wisconsin to figure out something else.

    Conner’s focus now is paying down her student loan and credit card debt.

    “Debt is just one of those pieces of life, and being miserable about it isn’t good either,” Conner laughs. “So, keep my head up high, I guess. Keep plugging away, and I have nothing to be ashamed of.”

    After all, she knows she has plenty of company.

  • Jordan Clark

    @Keith: We will see how Conner feels in 10 years when if she decides to try to buy a house and have kid’s having joint and back problems from working in retail 40+ hours a week with little to no benefits.

    Your article hits home, I think you put it best in one of your other posts where you said “We have a generation of dreamers, and eventually they are going to have to wake up.”

    College students, and upcoming Grad’s have one major flaw in their methodology, the real world isn’t “fair” and doesn’t care how bad you have it, especially when you don’t do research on the job market for your degree, and choose an easy or “fun” degree. Not everything in life is supposed to be “fun” a job is exactly that, a job. We used to have a saying in Sales “that you either have to love the job enough to where the pay doesn’t matter, or get paid enough to where the job doesn’t matter,” sad fact is, even if you love it, that doesn’t mean it will pay the bills.

    Parents and institutions need to stop taking the “hold your hand and do whatever makes you happy” approach and lay the hard reality out on the floor at an early age. If you don’t get “***qualifications***” not a degree (as a degree doesn’t mean anything more then debt if people don’t need the qualifications the degree stands for) that employers are looking for, you’ll be paying for it (both literally and figuratively) for the rest of their lives.

    I believe your right, eventually the disillusioned college students and grad’s will have to wake up and smell the coffee and realize life is hard, its even harder when your stupid, and there is no such thing as “fair.” Because eventually (and its coming sooner rather then later) your tax dollars, and my tax dollars and everyone else’s tax dollars are going to be used to help these kids out because they wanted to “have fun” instead of be responsible.

  • Jordan Clark

    “Social Darwanism” weeding out the weak and the stupid, unfortunately there are too many special interest groups out there that will keep that from ever happening.