Students get an early start on summer jobs

The early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the internship.

It may only be January, but the start of the semester already has students scrambling for summer job opportunities, and Anne Scammon, GW director of student employment and experiential education at the Career Center, said students should be doing exactly that.

“Start the summer search early to identify your career or interests and goals,” she said.

Scammon said that applying and hearing back from companies earlier rather than later gives students the ability to narrow down options to choose the job that fits their interests best, as well as the opportunity to schedule interviews at convenient times and avoid the crunch-time panic. Students typically start applying for summer internships now, she said, and many have already applied to companies with early deadlines.

It seems like many GW students are trying to follow Scammon’s advice. Dave Magee, a senior interested in psychology and law, said he’s just started looking for job opportunities this summer that will help him grow and build his career over the next few years.

“I’m paranoid that it’s really competitive,” he said. “(Starting now) leaves me enough time to look at as many opportunities as possible. I don’t want to limit myself.”

Freshman Josh Samuels said he does not know where he is working this summer or what he will be doing, but he’s determined to stay in the District come May.

“I want a job and I know they go fast,” he said. “I really don’t want to end up in California this summer.”

Samuels is right – summer jobs do seem to go fast. Deadlines for internships that don’t start until the end of May or even June can be as early as November, depending on the business, and by March or April most summer internship slots are filled.

The Washington Post’s summer internship has a Nov. 1 deadline and the interns are usually selected before Christmas, said Pam Kendrick, the newsroom personnel administrator. Kendrick said that since the job requires interns to live in D.C. over a 12-week period, and The Post does not provide housing, it gives those selected the entire spring semester to consider housing options and finalize plans, she said.

Other programs have deadlines that roll throughout the first few months of the spring semester.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology has a Feb. 15 deadline for their interns. Its program allows students to work alongside world-renowned scientists and engineers throughout the summer and give their own business-orientated presentation at the end.

Lisa Froczek, a spokeswoman for the institute, said the deadline for the internship is early because of the extensive hiring process. Since the institute provides summer interns with grants for their work, they must review fiscal constraints and consider how many students they are able to support before they send out job offers.

Froczek said the shift toward students starting to consider their summer plans in mid-winter is a recent phenomenon.

“When I was an undergraduate, there is no way I would look at a summer internship in January or February. But nowadays, almost all programs are looking at earlier deadlines,” she said.

Froczek said the institute has a mid-February deadline because it likes to get the word out about the interns they have hired before the summer starts. She said that they contact the students’ congressional representatives and local media about students’ selection to the prestigious program. She said she believes that internships are extremely important for a student to have before they start a career.

“Even if you know exactly what you want to do, it gives you an opportunity to try it out and make sure that’s what you want to pursue,” she said.

While Froczek may be right, easier said than done. Josue Trinidad, a coordinator for the Hispanic National Internship Program, which places high-achieving Hispanic students at paid summer and semester-long internships at federal agencies and private corporations in D.C., said the statistics are not encouraging.

“We see over 3,000 applicants, and we’re only able to place about 300,” Trindad said. “It’s very competitive.”

Trinidad’s internship facilitation program assists students in finding jobs that fit their profile and interests by searching a vast database of government positions and sending in resumes, writing samples and other qualifying documents to contacts at different agencies. The service is free for students because the participating agencies pay to advertise their opportunities through the program.

Trinidad agrees that early deadlines are crucial to his program, especially because they try to place students in federal government internships. His program has an early deadline for government jobs in November and a regular deadline for other companies in mid-February.

“We open our summer application in November because we have early deadlines for the CIA, FBI and other agencies that require a background check and security clearance,” he said.

Scammon from the Career Center, said her office is open to helping GW students with their summer internship search. She said her office is hosting a Career Campaign throughout the month of February, which will include job fairs and networking opportunities. For more information, go to http://gwired.gwu.edu/career/info/springcampaign.

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