September 16, 2019 | 63° F

Rutgers career services shares its resources for student internships

Photo by Mica Finehart |

 One of the opportunities offered by University Career Services is the Internship and Co-op Program, which is an online pass/fail internship course students can take for academic credit during the fall, spring and summer sessions. 

Members of Rutgers University Career Services (UCS) hope to help students on their career paths with the Rutgers Internship and Co-op Program (RICP), emphasizing internships as a good first step.

Director of Career Exploration and Experiential Education Sue Pye said those at UCS define internships as “professional level experience suited to a student.” Internships are supposed to be a mentorship that focuses students’ time on learning in areas that are related to their interests and majors.

Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Dr. Ben Sifuentes-Jáuregui said that internships have moved past shadowing a master employer. 

“Students are no longer gophers,” Sifuentes-Jáuregui said. “We want employers to be like teachers.”

Pye said that part of her and her colleagues’ jobs are recruiting employers that pay students. Some employers, like those under a non-profit organization, do not pay interns because their institutions are volunteer-based. 

She went on to say how beneficial it is to have at least one internship during college, but it is better to have multiple. 

Pye also said that there are many opportunities on campus for students to get involved with internships. Sifuentes-Jáuregui added that there are all kinds of additional advising and support from those students who do work with the University.

Director of Research Programs in STEM at Douglass Residential College (DRC) Nicole Wodzinski spoke about her specific program relating to paid summer research for students. 

Introduction to Scientific Research started in the 1990s with approximately 12 students in the program, Wodzinski said. She works on the program, which is tailored to people with no experience in the research field from start to finish, with the goal of recruiting first-year students in the fall.

She said that its aim is to help undergraduate women students with summer research. “There are 72 students in the class now, and 48 have applied for the summer,” Wodzinski said. “The rest of the students in the course either have a heavy academic workload or a paid STEM-centered internship.” 

She also said that in regard to the $3,000 stipends for individuals in the summer program, 77 were available.

Yet Rutgers’ co-op program is described more of a special agenda for students who show promise with certain employers who prefer a co-op setting, Pye said. She used Johnson & Johnson as an example. Through the co-op program, students will still work full-time while studying as a full-time student. 

Pye said that it is very demanding, and only a handful of students participate in it each year. UCS always encourages students to take internship courses, but the co-op course is a special case scenario.

Senior Director of University Career Services William Jones pointed out that securing a job after graduation has transformed in some small ways over the years. 

“Experience has become the new entry-level requirement,” Jones said.

Rutgers’ Handshake, an online career management platform, funnels paid internship opportunities to students. Jones said that since the launch of Handshake more than a year ago, 13,663 internships were posted by employers. Of that overarching number, 82% — 11,186 — of the internships were paid.

Another dataset that UCS uses to calculate its program progress is reports from each graduating class. Jones provided statistics from the Class of 2017 since 2018’s report was not yet available.

Of the Class of 2017, 51.8% reported having an internship or co-op while they were undergraduates, and 51.2% of those students reported that they had two or more internships. Of students with internships, 60.9% said that they were paid experiences, Jones said.

Jones touched on one major project, called the Bright Futures Internship Scholarship Fund, which will launch in the summer of 2020. It will be used to offer financial assistance to a maximum of 100 students who are participating in unpaid or low-paying internships.

“The funding will come from financial reserves that UCS has saved from employer revenue over the last five years in preparation for this opportunity,” Jones said. The goals of the fund involve getting more undergraduate students to participate in internships, and to help those students have more meaningful experiences with those internships.

Elizabeth Kilpatrick

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