Author: Malcolm MacLeod
For the first time since starting InternLA/PDX, Occidental’s Career Development Center (CDC) has decided that former participants may not apply for a second internship in the program within the same city. A number of InternLA alumni, myself included, were surprised and disappointed to hear this news.
It cannot be denied that earning $3,900 at an undergraduate internship in ones’ field of interest, all while spending a summer in Los Angeles or Portland, is quite a cushy gig. It only makes sense that former participants would like to come back for more––and they should be able to.
According to Liselda Fabian, the CDC’s internship coordinator, students who have participated in the CDC program are more likely to be successful at finding an internship through other avenues because of the experience they gained the prior summer. While this may be true, many internships are unpaid, particularly within the arts and film industries.
Students cannot always afford unpaid internships, and working at more than one site could provide valuable professional networking opportunities that students would not necessarily get with only one year in the program.
Fabian encourages former InternLA participants to apply to sites in Portland. For those adventurous students willing to get out of LA, or those with connections to the Pacific Northwest, this opportunity could be very helpful. However, many students come to Occidental with hopes of taking advantage of opportunities within the city of Los Angeles and developing a professional life here.
And by limiting participation to one site per city, the CDC hinders students’ ability to maintain momentum as they pursue professional lives in Los Angeles. Allowing students to apply to a greater diversity of sites would give them the opportunity to bolster and expand their skill set, which would make them more competitive in the job market after graduation.
According to Fabian, last year was the first time students had shown interest in coming back for a second year. The CDC experimented with allowing former interns to come back for a second year, but ultimately reverted to original restrictions due to insufficient funding to support more interns. The CDC prioritizes offering opportunities to as many students as possible, especially rising seniors for whom this summer will be their last chance to take part in the program.
There is no getting around the fact that the CDC has a limited amount of funding for this program. By allowing former participants to apply twice, it would certainly make the process more competitive than it already is. However, that competitiveness is more representative of the reality of today’s job market.
Though it is unfortunate that the CDC cannot fund more internships, it would be wise of them to reinstate the petitioning process that allowed students to participate in their program twice. Individual career counseling with the CDC is still a viable and proactive alternative to the InternLA/PDX programs. However, should those attempts at finding a job without the program’s help fall short, it seems only reasonable that former participants be able to apply for a second time—but to a different site. This alternative will not give former participants an unfair advantage since they have not worked at the second site. It will, however, teach students how to better prepare for the real job market and encourage them to push themselves, and thus make a better show of Occidental students’ impressive qualifications to influential employers.
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