Category: PYN | Apr 1, 2005
There's a lot riding on students such as Donnell A. Jackson. The Temple University junior may represent the future of the Philadelphia region, assuming he can find a job here.
Jackson appears to be doing his part. Last week, he was dressed in a business suit, talking to potential employers at a job fair being held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He was among about 300 college students offering to work cheap to gain experience.
That connection, in itself, is progress. Jackson, a broadcast journalism major, has heard repeatedly that internships lead to jobs and he is open to the idea of staying.
"If I can live comfortably up here, making a decent salary, I'll stay up here," said Jackson, who is from New Orleans. "If not, I'll have to go somewhere else to get a job."
The 43 employers at the minority internship fair, which was organized by a student retention group called CareerPhilly, were doing their part too.
Among them: Sovereign Bank was looking for tellers; the Philadelphia Zoo wanted interns to help care for animals and help in sales; Thatcher & Associates wanted Web and graphic designers; Wyeth, the pharmaceutical company, was looking for researchers and individuals to help out in marketing and human resources.
KYW Channel 3 hires about 25 interns during summer months and 18 for spring and fall internships.
Paul Marrero Jr., the television station's human resource manager, says the fair is an important recruiting event for him. Many students don't realize there are jobs at stations that don't involve being on the air.
KYW interns work on graphics for the art department and accounts payable in the business office. They help with research that bolsters the buying case for advertisers. Some get involved in news, following reporters around, working on copy and ending up with a demonstration tape that can be key to finding work.
Marrero talks about one intern who ended up getting hired in sales, where he is excelling, despite having started without an established client list.
Marrero knows the internship program is good for the region's goal of raising the educational attainment of people who live here, but the program is good for his company as well.
That, in essence, is what internships offer to companies who use them. They can provide an inexpensive way to complete a project that would otherwise sit. They create connections with potential employees, reducing the need to hire strangers. They can cut payroll costs and improve morale, providing help to a mid-level employee who might also enjoy working with an aspiring individual. They also are a way to help the region with the key economic development goal of improving its work force.
Managers can shy away from having too many interns because they require work. Yet, companies that are thoughtful about it, such as KYW, find they can use more interns than they perhaps first believed possible.
CareerPhilly is planning its next fair in September. It was created by the city-sponsored economic development group Innovation Philadelphia, as part of its contribution to the Knowledge Industry Partnership between college educators, business and civic groups. But it isn't the only program in the region to promote internships.
Another program is WorkReady Philadelphia, a Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board-backed program that seeks to put high school students into internships. There are always more students than available internships, its backers say. For companies and the region, that's opportunity knocking.