Students Find Benefits In Unpaid Internships
While part-time jobs guarantee paychecks, some area college students choose unpaid internships this summer that yield other benefits.
King’s College student and mass communications major Christopher Wallenberg, 21, has two unpaid summer internships that provide experiences to learn about his fields of study.
He interns at Wet Paint Printing + Design in Wilkes-Barre about 16 to 20 hours a week helping to advertise on their website, social media and YouTube.
He works with manager Scott Paull and edits videos that promote products and records voice overs. He’s earning three credits for his summer internship.
“This is helping me greatly, learning how a professional workplace operates,” Wallenberg said.
Wallenberg also has another unpaid internship at The Fitness Place in Fairview Twp. He is helping to complete a digital billboard and work on the business’ social media platforms and website.
Diane Hanlon, owner of The Fitness Place, said she’s excited to have him as an intern because while she’s trying to run a small business, it’s tough to do the marketing as well.
Wallenberg balances his two internships with a part-time job at Domino’s in Wilkes-Barre, which helps him pay for rent and food.
University of Scranton student Sarah Novak, 20, who is majoring in health administration, is interning this summer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the Office of Safety and Medical Operations Department.
She’s not receiving credits or being paid for her internship, but she said she’s using the experience to “gain a better understanding of the health care world.”
She’s typically in the office for seven to eight hours Monday through Thursday and occasionally comes in on Fridays.
“Although it has only been a few weeks since I have started, I definitely feel as I am benefiting from this internship,” Novak said. “I have been exposed to so many new people, resources and experiences that have already guided me on the path to success here at CHOP.”
At King’s College, 32 students are completing summer internships, said Kelly Lettieri, assistant director of internships at the Office of Career Planning at King’s College. Seventeen are unpaid and 15 are being paid. Students could receive three to nine credits depending on the hours worked, she said. If they do not receive academic credits, she said the internships still allow them to pursue opportunities in their fields of study and receive firsthand experience about jobs they would like to do in the future. At Wilkes University, 90 students are doing summer internships. The majority of students are being paid, said internship coordinator Sharon Castano. Students pursuing majors such as criminology and ride along with police officers are not paid because they are observing and can’t arrest people, Castano said. Students who are doing jobs for companies such accounting or finance are typically paid, she said. Wilkes student and marketing major Dylan Farrow, 21, is being paid for his summer internship at Keystone Automotive in Exeter. He works with a sales team prospecting new accounts and maintaining current accounts. He works about 20 to 25 hours a week. He also is doing another paid internship at marketing agency ConversionWorx Media. One day, Farrow said he hopes to own his marketing agency and the internships are helping him learn to be a “jack of all trades.” “At both places, I’m really learning how to connect with customers. I’m learning time management. They are really strengthening my communication skills,” Farrow said. “I’m learning all that I can.” Nationwide, about 43 percent of internships are unpaid while the remaining 57 percent are paid, according to Chris Whitney, director for the Center for Career Development at the University of Scranton. The U.S. Department of Labor has set rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act about which student interns should be paid and which do not. According to the standards, employers and interns must reach an agreement that there is no expectation of compensation and the training must be similar to what is given in an educational environment. Whitney said an employer cannot make money on the student’s work and an intern can’t replace a paid employee or that violates the law. “It truly has to be a learning experience for a student,” she said. In addition to students benefitting by internships by gaining real world experience, Whitney said they also may decide it’s not a beneficial experience and they may choose to work in a different direction. The University of Scranton offers a “Royal Experience” summer internship opportunity that awards stipends to students who obtain unpaid internships. Selected students are eligible to receive a stipend up to $4,000 during the summer.
Since about half of internships could be unpaid, Whitney said university officials decided to offer this program so learning over the summer doesn’t create a financial hardship for students.
Novak is one of the students benefiting from the Royal Experience program.
Thanks to receiving money donated to the program, she was able to live in Philadelphia for the summer and take care of some of her monthly expenses.
“I am ecstatic that this growing program has given me the opportunity to pursue a dream internship of mine, and I cannot wait to see what is in store over the remaining seven weeks,” Novak said.
For more information about how to support the Royal Experience program, go to www.scranton.edu/makeagift and enter “Royal Experience” as the fund name.
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