Monday, January 28, 2013

Think Tank "Permaterns"

The Washingtonian has an article in its just-released February edition about "permaterns," people who essentially cycle in and out of internships for long periods of time because the tight job market prevents them from getting other types of positions, such as paid, full-time work.

Here is an excerpt that talks about interning at the Wilson Center:
For many in Washington, the American dream starts with a highbrow internship that pays $4.35 an hour - then another, and maybe another.
That's how much Jessica Schulberg, 22, made for the ten months she worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a haven for academics and journalists researching public-policy issues.  Every month, before taxes, Jessica was paid a stipend of $700, supplemented by waitressing and bartending at Mr. Henry's on Capitol Hill.
"I felt like ten month was a long time to be there," says Jessica, a 2011 graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara.  But with only a bachelor's degree, she felt she wasn't qualified for many entry-level jobs, a suspicion confirmed by numerous rejections.  The places where she was applying - think tanks and nonprofits - were all "receiving a million applications from people just like me," she says.
Somewhat amazingly, Jessica is upbeat about her situation.  The internship at the Wilson Center, a coveted and prestigious position, made her feel like one of the lucky ones.  During her longer-than-anticipated stint, she assisted foreign-policy heavyweights like Michael Adler, a foreign correspondent for Agence France-Presse, on a book about diplomacy in Iran.  She did research for Mark Mazzetti, a national-security correspondent for the New York Times.
"My friend and I joke that we got paid to read and write and topics that we're interested in," says Jessica, an aspiring foreign correspondent.
Here is an excerpt that talks about internships at the Heritage Foundation:
Internship coordinators around town say they're seeing more applications with advanced degrees and previous internships than in the past.  At the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, about seven young people apply for each $7.25-an-hour intern slot.  Those positions are coveted because many see a Heritage internship as an entry point into other policy or law jobs in DC, says Heather Pfitzenmaier, director of the foundation's Young Leaders Program.
But the full-time jobs that are supposed to follow a prestigious internship aren't as plentiful as they once were.  "At the end of 2007, every intern had a job lined up," Pfitzenmaier says.  Now more are going to another internship after the Heritage Foundation stint.