Students vie for post-graduation opportunities

The approaching summer marks the exodus of another graduating class. While graduation is a feat in and of itself that deserves a fair amount of accolades, many students can’t avoid the dread that accompanies being thrust out into a seemingly inhospitable job market.

Despite the time, energy, frustration and debt that goes into finally achieving a degree in higher education, there is a sense among some graduating students that a degree doesn’t necessarily equal gainful post-college employment. Instead, they are turning to internships to become more viable job candidates.

However, it’s not uncommon for internships to manifest into full or part-time employment. Jeanne Ellis, Portland State’s Advising and Career Service’s internship advisor, said that data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that 56 percent of employers end up hiring their interns.

Although the experience of finding a suitable internship can seem daunting, Ellis said that there are opportunities if you know where to look.

“We have new opportunities for students every day [at the Career Center]. I just looked and we currently have 129 internships posted on the database.”

Ellis said that students who are interested in securing internships can search the Career Center database, scour Craigslist if they are up for the task or come in and chat with someone at Advising and Career Services.

“The advantages to using [PSU’s Advising and Career Services] include working with experts in career counseling on exploring careers and creating job search strategies,” said Ann Mestrovich, employer relations coordinator for Advising and Career Services. “We are compromised of career professionals who stay on top of industry trends and employer needs, and can provide a soup to nuts service to students—prepping students for every stage of their job search—resume and cover letter reviews, mock interviews, and networking tips, among others.”

“We meet with students one on one to help them identify companies and organizations that may be beneficial to their professional development,” Ellis said. “While we don’t actually match students or place students in internships, we do help students navigate the process of finding internships.”

Ellis also said that students, especially those with less common majors, may wish to pursue “hidden opportunities.”

“Those are found through networking. Networking with friends, with neighbors, with faculty, through scanning websites, through doing informational interviews with people in career areas that a student might be interested in.”

Ellis also said that some job or internship opportunities may not be posted or readily apparent. She said that some students might want to create their own internships.

“That is typically done through networking or individual research,” she said. “Students can possibly find a company or an organization that is doing the kind of work that they’re interested in and maybe the student can come up with their own idea of a project. It could be an event or a research project that they could do for a company that may help benefit that company.”

Chloe Roesch, a senior women’s studies major, is confronting her post-graduation anxiety by avidly searching for an internship that reflects her interests and career goals. She is currently applying to intern for Planned Parenthood.

“A lot of what I want to do includes the skills provided by the [Planned Parenthood] internship…I think to build on and accelerate those skills is really important to me,” Roesch said.

She also believes that given the competitive nature of the current job market, securing an internship is vital to her career trajectory.

“The world looks kind of grim out there for anyone with just a bachelor’s who doesn’t have work experience,” Roesch said. “So having specific experience in a field that you’re trying to focus on is really important. I do definitely think that a well-rounded application and resume stands out more than every other graduate.”

Patrick Maloney, a senior geography major, said that he started applying to internships during the summer of his junior year.

“I applied [for] about 10…For my summer internships, I searched everywhere. The biggest help, however, was the PSU Career Center,” Maloney said. “The CareerConnect website is actually where I found the internship I ended up accepting.”

Maloney now works for REACH CDC, a community development group that advocates for affordable housing. He began interning for REACH in July 2013 and was hired on as a part-time employee after his first three months.

For students eager to begin their career search, there is an all majors career fair at PSU on May 6. The fair is open to everyone from students to faculty, and will be held in the Smith Memorial Student Union ballroom from 11 a.m to 3 p.m.