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Summer internships are out there, but maybe not where students want to go most

New York City seems to be the locale of choice for internships among this year’s juniors in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, according to an informal survey.

The survey, conducted primarily with students in Fred Fejes’ Multimedia Theory class, asked students to indicate a simple preference for either New York City or Washington, D.C. Not one of the eight students who responded chose Washington.

The findings beg the question, “Why?”

If the primary objective of an internship is to learn valuable skills that will help the student in his or her future career, Washington offers superior options. While postings can vary from week-to-week, two of the more popular internship sites on the Internet showed that almost two-thirds of the media internships are in the nation’s capital.

Only a few exist in New York City, and those positions focus on interns for research positions. The Washington positions offered a wider range of options.

But what if experience is not the first objective? It would seem that the allure of a summer in the Big Apple is a big motivator, and the survey allowed for this by deliberately eliminating the one barrier faced by most students. Respondents were told to assume that money would be no object in their decision.

The hard truth is that only a very small percentage of internships offer any compensation, and most of those are in Washington, D.C., or here in South Florida.

“I would say only about 5 percent of internships are a paid position,” said Eric Freedman, associate director of the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies. He oversees Florida Atlantic University’s internships for media students.

The findings from the classroom survey indicated that four of the eight students would find it difficult to support themselves if they took an unpaid internship. In spite of that, those four students still had firm plans to take on a media-related internship and seek the three credits for doing it, even if it meant living through the summer on student loans or savings.

And as long as students are prepared to take on an assignment in places other than New York City or Washington, they stand a good chance of being placed.

“I can handle 15 to 20 interns at a time, but right now I’ve only got eight positions filled,” Freedman said.

He said he was confident that he could find placements for another dozen students this summer, and deadlines did not seem to be a problem. He indicated that as long as there are slots open at the end of April, he still would be able to place students in summer internships on short notice.



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