The following is from the Jan. 6, 2008, edition of The New York Times. SMU's Hegi Family Career Development Center provided expertise for this story.

Internships: Who Will You Be This Summer?


It will surprise nobody that the most competitive wave of high school graduates is now the most competitive wave of college students. The generation that made admissions a contact sport bring the same sharp elbows to how they spend their summers. Or, put in a form that parents would understand: “Internship” is to “first job” as “community service” is to “college.”

And if you haven’t applied for yours yet, you are late.

“Internships are no longer optional, they’re required,” says Peter Vogt, author of “Career Wisdom for College Students” and an adviser to, the student arm of the job-search Web site, which reports that 78 percent of students in college this year plan to complete one or more internships before entering the post-collegiate world.

First, let’s clarify terms. An internship is not the same as a part-time job. What parents of today’s students did during their summers — working as camp counselors, shipping room clerks, lifeguards — those were jobs. Jobs are for making money. Internships are for gathering contacts, résumé fodder and experience. Jobs are found through human resource departments. Internships are handled at a much higher level. In a true internship, real responsibility provides a hands-on feel for what a particular kind of work is like (and not the kind high school students do, volunteering at soup kitchens or building huts in Guatemala — that’s community service).

The time for securing internships is already running short. The career counseling center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas warns students on its Web site that recruitment for the most coveted 10 percent of internships starts 10 months in advance. And many of those, at places like Microsoft, Google, Disney and XM Radio, have filled their summer slots by New Year’s Day.

For those programs with deadlines that are a bit more forgiving (say, April 1, when, according to Southern Methodist’s data, 40 percent of official programs close), the question is how to find them. . .

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