Internships have become an essential step for many students to land a full-time job. But in the competitive New York City job market, the 66,000 college students studying in Brooklyn face considerable challenges to land their dream internships. Competition is fierce. Now, though, they have an ally.
Nearly a quarter of all the college students in the U.S. want to intern or work in New York City, according to a report this year by the recruiting platform, Looksharp. The report also points out that students averaged nine applications to secure their most recent internship.
Marco Gallo, 22, a graphic design student at the New York City College of Technology, is one of those who didn’t have much luck hunting for an internship this year. “I want to intern at a big company, focusing on my field of study and get paid, ” he said. “But such positions are quite limited, so we have to shift the goal. Smaller companies and startups are always looking for interns, but their internships are usually unpaid. “
New York City College of Technology (Siqi Tian / The Brooklyn Ink)
Gallo reached out to the career center at his school, but he still didn’t feel that he had enough internship resources to get what he was looking for. So he turned to Brooklyn Education Innovation Network, founded last year by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in partnership with New York City. The network’s mission is to help students from ten Brooklyn colleges secure internships and jobs through several programs. And for Gallo, it worked.
The Brooklyn Education Innovation Network is made up of ten member institutions: Berkeley College, Brooklyn Law School, Empire State College, LIU Brooklyn, Medgar Evers College, New York City College of Technology, New York University, Pratt Institute, St. Francis College, and St. Joseph’s College. The network emails job alerts to the member institutions’ career-development centers and 2,000 subscribers.
For companies, the network provides preliminary screening, which can be time-consuming for them. The network’s selection process weeds out students that might not be ready to step into the internship world. Only four to five resumes selected from up to 15 will be sent to local companies for further review. Through the Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program, the network selects students from City College of Technology to work for companies in Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Individual students can also just reach out to the network; the staff there put Gallo in contact with connections, and he landed a position within a week. Gallo started his graphic design internship at Thejibslife, a small sneaker and lifestyle company, in early September. “Overall it is great. I’m gaining experience in my interests of streetwear and apparel.” He designs tech packs to send to factories and logos for products, and he is also responsible for marketing and social media management.
Though Gallo’s ideal internship is at an established company, startups are playing bigger roles in the internship market. Preference for internships at startups jumped from 4.9 percent in 2014 to 9.7 percent in 2016, according to the Looksharp report.
That means there are quite a few opportunities in Brooklyn, which is home to numerous startups. “They have a small environment and you can have more direct connections with individuals. They value your ideas and desire,” said Duleep Deosthale, dean of entrepreneurships and academic programs for the Brooklyn Education Innovation Network.
“Brooklyn students are motivated, enthusiastic, and willing to work extra hours they not get paid for,” said Giorgi Adamashivili, the Career Development Assistant of Brooklyn Education Innovation Network.
However, it is still hard for Brooklyn college students to compete with students from Columbia and New York University, Adamashvili said. One of the network’s major tasks is to negotiate with local companies to hire Brooklyn-based talent and provide them with compensation.
Students say they are grateful for the help. Rachel Lucero, a graduate of New York City College of Technology, found a graphic design internship in DUMBO. “I wasn’t aware of how to find good design jobs out there. I struggled to find jobs before, due to self doubting my work,” Lucero said in a testimonial. “Without this internship, I wouldn’t be as creative as I am now, ” .
Michele Figueroa, Career Services Counselor for the Berkeley College Brooklyn Campus, cautioned that students looking for internships must start early. “If they want an internship in mid-September, I would probably start assist them in June, ” she said.
Berkeley College Brooklyn Campus (Siqi Tian / The Brooklyn Ink)
Deosthale mentioned that students with technological skills are most likely to get paid during an internships, no matter which industry the company is in. More than half of college students nationwide have taken computer science classes regardless of their major, often with the express purpose of standing out in the job market, according to the Looksharp report. However, Deosthale emphasized that such skills are not a must as students prepare for internships. Students should pay attention to where they have passion, and whether they match with the companies.
At Berkeley College, students must complete at least one internship before graduation. “You gain hands-on experience in your field through internships, and when you go out to find full-time jobs, you’ll have the experience on your transcripts, ” Figueroa says.