By Caitlin Graveson ’11

The job market is growing increasingly more difficult, and work experience has become invaluable to the recent graduate, making student internships very popular.

Internships offer a pre-professional experience very different from a normal part-time job, says Kate Cole, a career counselor and the internship coordinator for Saint Mary’s Career Center.

"In addition, it would involve some project work or research,” Cole says. "A student would be doing more than administrative duties. They would be mentored by a professional and sitting in on staff meetings and brainstorming sessions.”

Cole also says that students do not need to have experience to land a good internship. "All a student needs is an interest and a lot of enthusiasm and the desire to build a strong resume.”

Yet internships sometimes end in job offers. Amanda Kimmey ’08 works full time at the company she interned with as a student. Kimmey, who studied business and minored in communication, interned with EkoVenture, an online "social marketplace for experimental travel.” As an unpaid intern, Kimmey worked alongside the two employees, the CEO and the co-founder.

"I did everything and anything they needed me to do — data management, giving input on product development,” says Kimmey, who is now the business development manager. The company manages 400 clients and now has 10 full-time employees, two of whom began as interns.

While many students intern in the financial sector, others have interned with NBC Universal in New York City, the University of Southern California, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Musée Angladon in Avignon, France.

At the Career and Internship Fair in Ferragarrio Quad on Oct. 7, 2009, companies seeking interns included Alameda Point Collaborative, Bay Area Crisis Nursery, Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Diablo magazine, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Lincoln Financial Advisors.

Barbara Riley, the national sales coordinator of the Bay Area Society for Television, Advertising and Radio, was eager to hire students.

"Interns are important because they give us a fresh look. They are still in school so they know growing technology and can offer fresh insight into what is happening versus what we think is happening,” Riley said.

Riley likes that Saint Mary’s is a small school. "Saint Mary’s students understand more the importance of networking and maintaining a reputation. They understand that a reputation can carry on for a long time, … as opposed to students from Cal or another big school who can create a new identity.”

Kathi Baker, senior manager of college relations from Oracle, also came to the fair looking for interns. "Saint Mary’s students have a strong work ethic and are very focused. They know what they want.”

Students understand the reality of the job market during a recession. Senior Desiree Valenzeula said, "It is hard enough to get a job right out of college, anyway. An internship in spring would be an ideal way to get in contact with a company that might lead to a possible job after graduation.”

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