Students pay to work all summer for free

CHICAGO, March 1 (UPI) -- The job squeeze has prompted some U.S. college students to pay thousands of dollars to get summer internships deemed crucial to being hired for full-time jobs.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday internship placement companies say more students are applying for such internships and some have shelled out $8,000 in exchange for a summer of unpaid work.


Along with the persistent high unemployment increasing competition for careers, other non-financial considerations come into play. Many students jump at the chance to enhance their resumes while working in fields such as marketing, public relations or entertainment and living in big cities like New York or Chicago, the Tribune said.

Mike Smith, chief executive at internship placement company The Washington Center, said scholarships, grants and loans help cover the tab for most of the company's 768 summer participants.

Being college students, some simply put off contacting companies for internships -- and pay the price in the form of the fee for a placement company's help.

"I guess I put off thinking about the summer until March," said Laura Lombardo, a senior English major at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., who had no internships before her junior year. "It was probably me trying to deny that I was going to have to get an internship that summer."


Her father, James Lombardo, a sales manager in Richmond, Va., paid a placement company $6,999 to get his daughter a summer internship at Creative Consortium, a Chicago public relations firm.

"I look at it as a good investment in future development,'' he said. "It was a chance for her to spread her wings a little bit."

Some say the old-fashioned way of landing a summer internship provides valuable lessons.

"There's an important learning process students go through in doing their own internship search," said Lonnie Dunlap, executive director of University Career Services at Northwestern University. "It's an important skill to know how to search, identify and locate employers."

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