Economic downslide puts summer jobs and internships at risk

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By Sabrina Almeida

Mississauga, February 5 (CINEWS): It’s that time of the year when youth are trolling the Internet for summer job opportunities in the hope of notching up some work experience. Yet if your previous employer hasn’t called you

back or your school doesn’t provide co-op options, your chances of winning the lottery could probably be higher than securing a summer position. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but with companies tightening their wallets, summer positions are becoming almost extinct.

Paid internships are the first to go
I know of at least two large organizations that would normally hire 10 to 20 interns but will be closing their doors to hopefuls this year. The paid positions are always the first to go. As businesses fight to stay competitive, giving back to the community slips further down the list. With one of them cutting almost 50% of their staff over the past two years, they are less inclined towards babysitting the interns.
The reality is that most of these positions are goodwill gestures with organizations providing students little value in terms of real experience. Two students who worked for a Mississauga-based company in the past two or three summers told me that they were given little work and allowed to leave every afternoon. But at least it looked good on their resumes!

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Employers are overwhelmed by the number of applicants
As applications grow by the hundreds, many interviewers are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers they have to evaluate. A human resource manager admitted that he almost cancelled an intern position two years ago because he had 500 resumes to go through. Then he thought better of it as images of his daughters facing a similar situation conjured up before him.
The position finally went to a post-graduate student who was willing to accept minimum wage in spite of his qualifications. His only other option being working in a coffee shop.

Competition is fierce
More applicants means the competition is heating up. And it is the employers who will derive the maximum benefits. As unemployed graduates and post graduates are competing for the same jobs, first and second-year university students with little or no experience rarely stand a chance.
Also students with average or below average grades almost have no hope, as employers scrutinize applications closely and naturally prefer the cream of the cop.

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No one wants to babysit interns
Every intern needs to be managed i.e. shown the ropes. This requires time and effort. As employees find themselves stretching to fulfill their own responsibilities, few have the time or patience to hand-hold interns. As a result departments with co-op positions might be tempted to give it a pass.
A gentleman who worked for a multinational company narrated how department heads in his organization simply let these positions go unfilled. No one wanted the ‘headache” of managing an intern.

The worst off are those college and university students who are in their final year and need an internship to graduate. I know two students who are beside themselves with worry. While one is on the brink of finishing a nursing degree the other is completing an advertising one. All efforts so far have yielded nothing. Many like them, are willing to travel further, even temporarily move to another city just to be employed.
For the others there’s always fast food and retail positions to fall back on… where the few hours for temporary staff will be divided among many more. And, the pay check would fetch you little more than a trip to the coffee shop. In the meanwhile student loans will accumulate while they gather no relevant experience and their employability slips even further. Really troubling, isn’t it?

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