Uptown-based CareerImp expands internship services
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While internships were once thought of as value-added options for students seeking hands-on experience in their chosen fields, today's highly competitive jobs market has transformed them into necessities.
Hoping to meet the needs of an expanding internship base, Uptown-based online career services company CareerImp purchased the Regional Internship Center at the beginning of the year for an undisclosed figure.
The internship center, founded by the Coro Center for Civic Leadership Pittsburgh in 2004, partners with more than 60 educational institutions and serves employers in 13 Western Pennsylvania counties and the West Virginia panhandle.
CareerImp, founded in 2010 with backing from Innovation Works, operates a career-centered website Resunate that helps to evaluate and build online resumes and MyCrappyResume, a site where job seekers and human resources managers share humorous stories about the job search process.
Since the acquisition, the center has worked with the Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship initiative to provide career workshops to the first class of college graduates from the Promise program, but also reached out to individuals who may not ordinarily seek internships.
CareerImp's co-founder Mona Abdel-Halim said individuals long past their graduation dates are turning to internships to start new careers.
"Internships are a great resource even for graduates, alumni, people who may be transitioning careers because offering their services part time, for free or even for a trial period, helps the company test out whether it's a compatible job match prior to giving a full-time offer," she said.
The organization also is making efforts to reach individuals who might not believe they're capable of landing an internship.
The center has an agreement with the Urban Innovation 21 program to guide approximately 50 Community College of Allegheny County freshmen during their paid internships. The center's Summer Intern Program brings interns from companies around the region together for educational and networking events.
Urban Innovation 21 is part of the Hill District-based Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone, a consortium of private and public institutions designed to support technology and economic development activities in the city.
Its internship program, which is underwritten by UPMC Health System and Alcoa, is geared toward students whose academics or limited professional experience may have prevented them from obtaining traditional internships.
It also assists students trying to decide between entering the workforce or continuing their education at another institution.
Additionally, Ms. Abdel-Halim said the center is working with Urban Innovation 21 to create a summer internship program for at-risk youth from the Uptown and Hill District neighborhoods. That program is still in the planning stages.
Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett said the CCAC program gives students a chance to work in fields that may be related to their majors, but also gives them an upper hand on students that enter the workforce without experience.
"Especially now, with the economy being the way it is, employers want to see students that have work history and oftentimes they consider work history to be more important than their GPA or major," he said.
Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, said the organization teamed up with the center to support the efforts of scholars graduating from college, but noted that Pittsburgh Public Schools are introducing internships to students at the high school level at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy in Oakland.
Calling the program "a new way of doing and thinking about school," he said today's students need to find a new way of thinking about professional experience, with or without their school's help.
"Because the job market has been so tight ... young people ought to pay close attention to internship opportunities as the key to gaining future employment," he said.
First Published March 30, 2012 12:00 am