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Student interns prepare for summer

By Kathleen McWilliams
On April 13, 2014

              As summer approaches, students are planning the details of summer jobs and internships to keep working hard between semesters.                

              At a summer job, students can easily make a couple thousand dollars without worrying too much about the costs of transportation. However, with internships, spending money can often be a far bigger concern.

                  "Not all internships are paid," Beth Settje, the assistant senior director of internships said. "And there are laws about that."

                  The law Settje refers to is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which protects interns from being exploited in the workplace. Recently, several large corporations, such as Bank of America and Fox Searchlight Pictures, have come under fire for using interns for necessary labor on an unpaid basis. If an internship is unpaid, Settje said, university credit can be established to offer a form of compensation in an educational form. However, for-credit internships through UConn have a cost attached to them.

                  "If a student is going to get credit for an internship, that is a financial constraint," Settje said, noting that internships not completed during the semester have an additional cost attached to them. Additionally, Settje said, in order for an internship to appear on a student's transcript, a fee of $45 is charged.

                  Despite the potential for internships to be costly with housing and transportation, Settje said most students are likely to choose a local internship because of the problem of affordability.

                  "The vast majority of students are concerned about costs and it is more practical, so they live at home," Settje said.

                  For 2013 graduate Mike McGuire, who currently interns with The Washington Nationals baseball team and has previously interned with Red Frog Events and the Delaware 87ers, he found that all three of his internships, two of which were paid, had costs attached, but affordable options were available with a little searching.

                  "Internships are unpaid more often than not, but with a little research, you can always find something that's paid for what you're looking to do," McGuire said. "A lot of universities keep their dorms open as housing options for interns. Most are very reasonable. This might be just a big city thing though. Personally, I think nothing beats playing the Russian Roulette that is finding roommates on Craigslist, but that might just be me. If you can find an internship where you can live at home, with extended family or with a friend for the duration, that's even better. For an unpaid internship, it can be a free place to stay. If it's paid, you'll make bank."

                  Even for his unpaid internship, McGuire said that budgeting and careful planning helped him to control how much money he spent toward the experience.

                  "The best advice here is make sure you're living within your means and spending accordingly. It's why for me I'd say the costs were covered," McGuire said.

                  Andrew Silva, an 8th semester chemical engineering major, worked in Tennessee for the summer at a plant and found that the company and his pay of $20 an hour covered all of his costs.

                  "I was responsible for transporting myself to Kingsport, but I was reimbursed for my roundtrip mileage," Silva said. "Also, I had to pay for housing, but the company set the interns up with an apartment complex.  The money came right out of our paycheck-only $90 a week- and the apartment complex we stayed in was definitely worth more than that."

                  His company also provided him with a shuttle bus to the plant every day so that he and the other interns would not have extra expenditures with transportation.

                  Silva also said that any costs associated with internships can be worthwhile in the long run as they often turn into jobs or other opportunities within the company.

                  "Internships are a great experience and are more or less like long interviews-potentially leading to full-time job offers," Silva said. "Some companies, especially larger ones, will make accommodations for their interns. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask what is available.  Either way, an internship is a summertime investment that can seriously pay off in the long run."


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