Landing the Right STEM Internship


Interns at Intel.

— by Karen Purcell

Internships are a great way to experience the work environment and explore different options within your discipline of study. Internships provide fantastic on-the-job training and often lead to job offers after graduation.

Many students find themselves stuck when it comes to finding and securing an internship. This is likely their first experience with applying for jobs in this type of environment, and it involves more than filling out an application and talking to a manager in charge.

Tips to find internships aligned with your career goals follow the jump.
To begin your search, you should first look to companies or organizations you are interested in working with. Go to job fairs at your school and see which firms are out there. Are any of the companies that are there recruiting from your campus ideal fits for you? Perhaps you have been reading up on successful groups in your area of specialty and you have decided that Company XYZ is the place you want to work.

However you discovered them, go first to your favored operations and see if they are offering any internship positions. Even if they are not publicly advertising them, there may be opportunities for you. Pick up the phone or visit the office in person and introduce yourself, leave a résumé, and make yourself available to them.

If you don’t have a specific internship in mind, there are many resources available to you online to help you narrow down your choices. Search online for information on available internships, application deadlines, qualifications, and more.

Talk to your professors, advisers and mentors about your search and ask them to point you in the right direction for any resources available on your campus, such as databases or aggregate lists of STEM internships.

You probably won’t be offered the first internship you apply for, so cast a wide net. You may even find that you get to pick your preferred placement if you’ve lined up plenty of options.

Once you get an interview, take time to prepare. You want to put your best foot forward. Show them that you have done your research and understand what they are about. Tell them how an experience with them aligns with your future career goals. Don’t leave it up to them to guess; make it explicit.

Bring a list of questions about the company or the position that demonstrate you understand the company’s purpose and how you might fit into the equation.

Don’t make money the primary conversation piece. If you want to make loads of money over the summer, an internship is probably not for you. Remember that you are giving a great deal of your time and energy in exchange for experience, connections, and references that will better serve you in the long run than a higher wage will serve you now.

Karen Purcell, P.E. is the founder, owner, and president of PK Electrical, an award-winning electrical engineering, design and consulting firm. She is the author of Unlocking Your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. She has created Stemspire, which aims to help women create meaningful futures in the STEM fields.

Solid Job Growth in November

— by Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

With solid job growth in November — in addition to strong data on manufacturing activity and auto sales — it is clear that the recovery continues to gain traction.

Today’s report was yet another reminder of the resilience of America’s private sector following the disruptive government shutdown and debt limit brinkmanship in the first half of October.

Nevertheless, today’s jobs numbers show that too many Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer are still struggling to find jobs.

That is why the President is calling on Congress to pass the extension of emergency unemployment insurance before it expires at the end of the year, just like they have always done when long-term unemployment remains elevated.

The President also continues to work to increase overall growth while ensuring that growth is shared broadly in the form of higher wages and more mobility, which is why he is fighting for a minimum wage increase and expansion of educational opportunities.

Five key points in today’s report after the jump.
1. America’s resilient businesses have added jobs for 45 consecutive months, with private sector employment increasing by more than 8 million over that period.

Today, we learned that total non-farm payroll employment rose by 203,000 in November, with 196,000 of that increase in the private sector. Private sector job growth was revised up for September (to 168,000) and October (to 214,000) so that over the last three months, private employment has risen by an average of 193,000 per month.

2. Real average hourly earnings for private production and non-supervisory workers rose 1.4% in the twelve months ending in October, the largest increase since 2009, and today’s data on nominal wages in November suggest that this growth likely continued.

These data signal that the recovery in the labor market continues to progress, but are also a reminder that more work remains to boost not only job creation but also earnings.

The real wage growth observed in recent months reflects both low inflation and a pickup in nominal wage growth, which continued into November, when the average private sector production and nonsupervisory worker earned $20.31 per hour, up 2.2% relative to a year earlier (data on inflation and real wages in November will be available on December 17).

Looking over a longer period, real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers have risen on net only about 3% since 1979 — a period when labor productivity rose by more than 90%.

These statistics underscore the importance of taking steps to ensure that even as our overall economy continues to strengthen, those striving to get into the middle class are not left behind.

3. While many retailers add additional workers to accommodate heightened customer traffic during the holiday season, the magnitude of holiday hiring differs substantially across retail subsectors.

The chart on the right shows the varying extent of seasonal hiring by comparing the raw, unadjusted level of payroll employment in a given sector to the seasonally adjusted level. Sectors with higher ratios can be said to exhibit a more pronounced seasonal hiring pattern.

In November, the overall retail trade industry had 15,773,100 payroll positions (not seasonally adjusted), which represents 15,320,500 positions on a seasonally adjusted basis — the unadjusted level is about 3% higher than the adjusted level.

For clothing and clothing accessory stores, the sector with the most pronounced holiday hiring effect, unadjusted employment was about 10% higher than the seasonally adjusted level in November.

In contrast, for building material and garden supply stores, unadjusted employment was about 2% less than seasonally adjusted employment in November — perhaps unsurprising, since cold weather prevents Americans in many parts of the country from gardening during the winter months.

While the unadjusted data can provide interesting insights into the patterns of our economy and society, the seasonally adjusted data are the best benchmark of the economy’s progress.

And crucially, the seasonally adjusted data show that overall hiring in the retail trade sector has been solid in recent months, with employment rising by an average of 36,000 per month over the last six months.

4. While still unacceptably high, the unemployment rate fell 0.3% to 7.0%, the lowest in five years, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ broadest alternative measure of labor underutilization also posted a notable decline.

The “U-6” rate is the broadest alternative measure of labor underutilization because it includes the unemployed, persons working part-time for economic reasons, and those marginally attached to the labor force.

This measure fell by 0.6% in November, the largest one-month drop on record (following a shutdown-related increase in October), and also reached its lowest level in five years.

The concurrent improvement in the broadest official alternative measure of labor underutilization is another signal that the labor market is healing.

The chart above shows that over time, these two series tend to move in the same direction, but that the U-6 is always substantially higher than the official unemployment rate in both recessions and recoveries.

5. All of the reduction in unemployment in November was due to a drop in the number of short-term unemployed, while the average duration of unemployment rose to 37.2 weeks and remains markedly elevated.

The median duration of unemployment has come down from its peak of 24.8 weeks to 17.0 weeks in November, but the average duration has not come down as much from its peak of 40.7 weeks.

The substantial gap between the average and median duration of unemployment suggests that many of the remaining unemployed are concentrated at extremely lengthy durations of unemployment.

The additional weeks of unemployment insurance offered as a result of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program first signed into law by President Bush in 2008 serve as an important lifeline to those who are still struggling to get back on their feet in the wake of the crisis.

The critical need to extend the EUC program before it expires at the end of this year is outlined in this report, released earlier this week by the Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Labor.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and payroll employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

Final Pre-Election Job Report Continues Winning Streak

Today, the non-partisan Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with its final monthly job report before this Tuesday’s Presidential Election.

As you can see, when Obama took office, we were losing about 800,000 jobs a month. Once the stimulus plan went into effect, job loss slowed down and after a year reversed itself.

Since then, the economy has built a solid record with 32 consecutive months of job growth in the private sector, representing a net increase of 5,400,000 private sector jobs in a little less than three years.

30 Consecutive Months of Job Growth

The next time someone asks if we are better off now than we were four years ago show him this graph.

Report from the Council of Economic Advisors follows the jump.
Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in August.

While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.  It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007.  To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to support the elements of the American Jobs Act that have not yet passed, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders. To build on the progress of the last few years, President Obama has also proposed an extension of middle class tax cuts that would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase next year.

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector establishments added 103,000 jobs last month, and overall non-farm payroll employment rose by 96,000. The economy has now added private sector jobs for 30 straight months, for a total of 4.6 million jobs during that period.

The household survey showed that the unemployment rate declined from 8.3% to 8.1% in August.

Employment rose notably in leisure and hospitality (+34,000), professional and business services (+28,000), health care and social assistance (+21,700), and wholesale trade (+7,900). Manufacturing lost 15,000 jobs, including a 7,500 drop in motor vehicles and parts, which is partly payback for there having been relatively few seasonal auto plant shutdowns in July.  Over the past 30 months, manufacturers have added more than 500,000 jobs.  Government lost 7,000 jobs, as state government payrolls fell by 6,000 and local governments shed 4,000 jobs. Since February 2010, State and local governments have lost 504,000 jobs.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.
 

Romney Criticizes Obama Wanting To Hire Police, Firemen, Teachers

— Ben LaBolt

After years on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney finally revealed his jobs plan today.  It is a plan of job elimination, not creation.  While the President has put a jobs plan on the table that addresses areas of employment where we need to spur hiring the most right now — keeping police officers on the street and teachers in the classroom, Mitt Romney promised to eliminate even more public sector jobs.  Mitt Romney has also said we should ‘send home’ 145,000 federal workers — those workers are mostly military personnel, VA hospital personnel who care for the wounded and Homeland Security workers.  Not only has Mitt Romney opposed the President’s plan to create one million jobs, he is actually calling for further job loss in the sector that needs the most urgent boost.  While job creation in Massachusetts lagged during Romney’s tenure as Governor despite his promises, calling for job elimination when we’re still digging out from the economic crisis is nothing short of stunning.


Republicans like to claim that Obama and the Democrats have bloated the size of government. Actually, xcept for a brief blip due to Constitutionally mandated census in April 2010, the size of government has decreased throughout the Obama administration.

As can be seen in the graph of the left, more people are employed in the private sector now than when Obama took office. Any net reduction in jobs is therefore solely due to reductions in the size of government.
Obama for America TV Ad: “Jobs”

Obama for America today released a new television advertisement called “Jobs” that asks Americans to join the President in calling on Congress to pass his commonsense bipartisan plan to create jobs now as we continue to recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and rebuild an economy that’s meant to last.

Nearly nine months ago, President Obama gave a speech before Congress where he laid out the American Jobs Act, with ideas to cut taxes to help small businesses hire and grow, rebuild American infrastructure, create pathways back to work for Americans looking for jobs, and cut taxes for every American worker and their families — all paid for within the President’s long-term deficit reduction plan. The plan would create 1.9 million jobs, according to an independent economist.

After pressure from the American people, Republican leaders in Congress agreed to end their obstruction and cut payroll taxes, extended unemployment insurance, and created a new tax credit for businesses that hire unemployed veterans. But it left most of the ideas — and over 1 million jobs — on the table. And it has not yet acted on any of the five common-sense ideas in President Obama’s to-do list: cutting taxes for small businesses that hire or raise wages and for companies that bring jobs home, expanding refinancing for responsible homeowners, creating a veterans jobs corps, and investing in clean energy manufacturing.

The President is calling on Congress to put country ahead of politics and take steps to create a million jobs now. America’s businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last 27 months but our economy is still recovering from its greatest crisis since the Great Depression and there’s still more work to do.

“Jobs” is airing in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. It will also be airing on national cable starting next week.

JEVS Helping Hands Program

Penny Kardon, Director of Career Strategies for the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service (JEVS) in Philadelphia, explains the Helping Hands program as “a program for underemployed or unemployed Jewish individuals up to the age of 65. They are given intense vocational assessment, ongoing career counseling, and opportunities for us to pay for training programs. There’s a free computer program, workshops, lots and lots of support with job placement, (and) it’s a one-year program, it’s of no cost to the participants, and it’s completely funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.”

More after the jump.

The whole goal of Helping Hands, says Kardon, “is to make you more self-sufficient and it’s been working, it’s a wonderful opportunity if you qualify.”

Helping Hands, adds Kardon, helps fifty clients each year, and, she adds, “In general, we’ve (All of JEVS) been very busy.” The poor state of the economy, she adds, “has added clients to us, with Unemployment running out and a tight job market.”

Rhonda Cohen, Coordinator of Community Relations for JEVS Career Strategies, adds, “Our services are not just specifically for Jewish clients, we also take those who are not Jewish into our department, and that’s on a sliding fee scale.”

Helping Hands, says Kardon, is “primarily a career counseling service, we help you do your resume,  and counsel you, but if you want job placement, we have a full-time job developer, and out of those people who wanted job development, we have placed close to seventy percent of those individuals last year, and the year before. So we are placing people, even with the tough market.”