Employers expect to ramp up hiring college interns this summer as companies continue to climb out of the recession.
Firms plan to increase their hiring for summer internships by 8.5 percent over last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, or NACE, reported.
The group, which tracks employment of college graduates, polled 280 organizations between November 2011 and January that hired college interns.
Local college career center officials were upbeat, saying they are seeing an uptick in intern recruiting activity.
"We certainly are seeing many employers who are excited about the hiring of summer interns," said Janice Morand, project manager at the Internship and Career Center at UC Davis, where the heaviest recruiting is in computer science, engineering and information technology.
"It has been a good season. It's very clear that there are going to be more interns hired," Morand said. "It reflects a change in the economy. It's very exciting for students."
Eva Gabbe, a California State University, Sacramento, employment relations and recruitment manager, said she's also seeing an upswing in internship recruiting at her campus.
"So many more companies are looking at that effort," Gabbe said. For employers, the internships are also an effective screening device to find if student hires are ready for the next step.
Interns are paid less than their full-time counterparts and also give wary firms some wiggle room in a difficult economy, Gabbe said.
"Companies are cautious, but they have to get the work done," Gabbe said. "Engineering, accounting, sales -- they're all jumping into that arena."
Rancho Cordova's Vision Service Plan, for instance, has expanded its longtime IT summer internship program to include marketing and business analyst positions.
The IT program has proved to be a sure pipeline for talent. Of the 60 interns VSP has hired over the last six years, 20 are employed full time, the majority in information technology. Its IT department alone plans to hire as many as 22 interns this summer.
"It's the first year we're putting companywide wheels on this," said Shauna Harrington, a VSP workforce development director. "It's a great way to increase the talent pool."
That could be good news for students like Anastasia Dolotov. The Sacramento State accounting major tracked down internship leads at a job fair last month on the CSUS campus.
"I'm looking for an internship or a part-time job," she said while waiting for a career counselor to review her resume. "I guess I'm hopeful."
She may have reason to be. Nearly all of the organizations polled plan to pay their interns, NACE officials said. The average pay for bachelor's degree-level interns, at $16.21 an hour, is slightly less than last year's $16.68, according to NACE.
NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes said the internships "feed their full-time hiring efforts; as a result, they pay their interns to ensure the best talent pool possible."
Whatever the pay, Gabbe advises students to seize the opportunity.
"We tell them, 'Go get the experience. Put it on a resume. It matters.'"
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