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August 21, 2001
Interns Remain Popular
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Employers who've been forced to cut back on hiring are turning increasingly to a tried-and-true source of cheap labor: the college intern.

Interns, who are paid little if anything, cost much less than permanent hires and require no benefits, USA Today notes.

And they often make good investments. Even firms hard hit by the slowdown are offering programs for students, so they can locate good hires once the economy rebounds, the newspaper reports.

USA Today gives these examples:

  • Texas Instruments is bringing in about 600 students this year. They come for three to nine months and, unlike most interns, get pay and benefits. Programs continue to run year-round, even though the firm announced layoffs this year.

    "We've maintained our commitment no matter what the economy looks like,'' says Kristen Pressner, TI manager of student sourcing and selection. ''We know how to manage through downturns, and this program is key to our future success. . . . It's a large program, and it's a feeder program for great hiring."
  • Jordan Associates, an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, advertising and communications firm, is adding to its intern program, which draws about 18 students coming each semester. About 10 years ago, the firm brought in only about three interns. The company has about 100 employees; interns are unpaid.

    "The advantage for us is that we use our internship program as a recruitment tool and have hired 11 new employees in the last 2 years," Jordan's Laura Hinson tells USA Today.
  • Verizon Communications has about 375 students involved in various internship programs this year for stints ranging from 12 weeks to a semester or longer. The programs are paid; students may do projects such as marketing research or database work.

    Asked why her company hasn't drastically reduced its program despite layoffs earlier this year, Verizon employment specialist Carol Nielsen replied, "The economy will turn around. Developing a talent pool is always going to be important. Ceasing and desisting would be a huge mistake."

More than 60 percent of companies plan to maintain or increase hiring of students for internship and similar short-term assignments, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Programs are often year-round, with students taking time off or enrolling in programs while in school.

To view the USA Today article, click here.
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