Students chip away at internship glass ceiling

University students discuss the difficulties of finding post graduation jobs


Elizabeth Penczak/THE REVIEW
Senior Elizabeth Penczak interned at Seventeen Magazine in New York City, but commuted from her hometown.

Gender equality is no longer the only glass ceiling the millennial generation is battling. Matthew Brink, director of Career Services director, says it seems as though this generation is struggling to make the transition from unpaid internships to paid employment.

Elizabeth Penczak, a senior English and women’s studies double major, says she remembers feeling happy and relieved when she landed an internship with Seventeen Magazine in New York City this past winter session.

“It was a great experience, but frustrating in terms of finances because of how much money I lost commuting from New Jersey, my hometown, to New York City,” Penczak says.

In addition to lamenting the loss of around $600 spent on transportation during the months of December and January, Penczak says she noticed that despite being told she would be working from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.., she never got home earlier than 9:30 p.m.

Ilyssa Pastolove, a junior public policy major, says she is currently in the application process for an internship with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“I worked to get a spot to interview with this organization through networking,” Pastolove says. “I became close with the professor who I studied abroad with and her husband used to work at Den-Rec.”

Brink says he believes this glass ceiling is affecting some graduating seniors more than others based on their chosen career industries and how the recession has impacted them.

The issue is not with the majors that students are choosing, but with job recovery after the recession of 2008, Brink says. The job market recovered within 18 months during the recession of 1987, while today the economy is still lagging five years later, he says.

“Employers are being cautious with expanding hiring as assertively as they had in the past mostly due to the bailouts many companies faced following the recession of 2008,” Brink says.

Despite this widespread panic among many companies and organizations, Brink says students are mostly sticking with the majors they chose. Instead, they are adding majors and minors to diversify their academic background to increase what they can offer to the job market, Brink says.

Students such as Penczak say they are in consensus with this trend that has been observed over the past five to six years. She says she knows her major is right for her and being able to write is a skill that will take her far in any field.

Pastolove says she is more worried about her future because she is not 100 percent sure what she wants to do with her degree, rather than what kind of jobs are out there. She says she hopes to transform her passion of marine biology into a career.

Brink says if he could offer some advice to any university student looking to expand their horizons with an internship, it would be to fulfill the minimum obligations of the internship and always ask if there is something else to be done.

“There is a bit of art and science on how to succeed in turning an internship into a job, but when it’s done well you can build connections throughout the organization and solidify your future,” Brink says.

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