For students, the cost of living factors into internship decisions

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Internships are often a stepping stone to full-time jobs, but the high cost of living has some students wondering if they can afford summer positions in certain locations.

Many companies pay interns in order to compete for talent and ensure that opportunities don’t just go to those who can afford to work for little or no pay. Still, some students and employers say stipends and wages aren’t going as far as they did a year ago, and soaring rents from New York to Seattle have also changed students’ calculations about where they can perform. internships.

Debbie Girma, a third-year law student at the University of Oklahoma Law School, has worked as a legal intern and political canvasser for the past several years. Ms. Girma, who eventually wants to do nonprofit or civil rights work on the East Coast, is interning this summer at a private law firm in Dallas because it pays more than the $12 an hour offered by many public defender summer roles. Also, the cost of living in Texas is relatively low.

Deborah Girma said she “applied to places where I could reasonably afford to live” this summer.


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Deborah Girma

She said she turned down several internships as an undergrad when job offers on the East Coast wouldn’t have covered her rent, and this year, thanks to inflation, the costs would still be higher, she said.

Ms. Girma, 23, has set aside her goal of working in Washington, DC, for now and “just applied to places where I could actually afford to live, she said.

Remote opportunities over the past two years have allowed interns to gain experience while working in affordable locations. This summer, in-person experiences are largely back, but some say temporary moves are too expensive.

Sophomore Phoebe Omonira, who studies human rights and public affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, opted for a remote consulting internship for a New York company that paid $500 for a seven-week stay this spring. She said she focused on remote internships in her search because moving to a big city for a small salary wasn’t feasible.

While the time spent with her colleagues in New York would have been nice, Ms Omonira said the stipend would not have covered her living expenses if she had moved. Instead, she communicated with colleagues and managers online.

“You can’t be afraid to chat privately with someone and connect,” she said. “It’s easier to schedule a 15-minute phone call with someone than to sign on someone’s calendar and go out for coffee or lunch with them.”

Phoebe Omonira has a remote internship where she connects with colleagues and managers online.


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Phoebe Omonira

Some 11% of 180 employers have planned fully remote internships in 2022, up from 56% of 216 employers surveyed last year, according to Veris Insights, a recruiting intelligence firm.

Maddy Haberberger, who recently graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Kent State University, said she would never have applied for her paid internship at NBCUniversal if it required her to move to New York in the summer of 2021. Since she was able to do remotely from her apartment in Ohio, she gave it a try and won a spot.

“I have always dreamed of New York. I always dreamed of working at NBC and in entertainment, but it just wasn’t financially realistic,” she said, adding that the modest hourly wage was enough to be comfortable in. Ohio.

Her remote internship led to full-time remote work at NBC, where she is a social media producer. She wants to go to New York, but worries if she is financially ready for such a move. For now, she plans to continue working at NBC, alongside graphic design work to save money and reduce her student loans. She could return to live with a college roommate in Cleveland before moving to the Big Apple.

Maddy Haberberger says she’d love to work in New York, but is instead working for NBCUniversal from her apartment in Ohio at the moment.


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Maddy Haberberg

Companies are treating their intern pools as a source of longer-term talent in a still tight hiring market.

A 2019 survey of 262 employers offering internship programs found that 70% offered students a chance to return; 80% of those interns accepted the job offers, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which conducted the research.

As bidding wars erupted this spring over interns in some sectors, some big companies, notably in technology and finance, helped cover their corporate housing and office meals. Roblox software company,

which is bringing internships back on-site, increased its housing and equipment allowance to $7,000 for this summer’s interns, up $1,000 from 2019.

Paid internships are more common in companies, less so in public and non-profit organizations. More than 70% of the 15,000 students surveyed in 2021 by NACE said they had completed a paid corporate internship, compared to 62% of federal government interns and 32% of nonprofit interns.

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NACE research also shows that students with unpaid internships were less likely to receive job offers than those with paid internships, although unpaid interns were better off overall than students without such experience. .

New research from Strada Education Network, a nonprofit that connects students with employers, found that students with at least one paid internship experience earned an average of $4,755 more per year in their first post-graduation role. graduation compared to their peers without paid internship experience.

Tyrrell Harrell, who runs a small media production company in Atlanta, said he lacked the money to train interns, but he didn’t feel good about the unpaid work. He had to turn down unpaid work earlier in his own career and said taking on such roles felt like an industry expectation that excluded people who couldn’t afford to work without pay.

This year, he said he was hiring entry-level workers instead of interns.

“It’s a chore not making money,” Mr Harrell said. “It just puts you far, far behind.”

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