The long-running joke about interns is that they do little more than get coffee and collate papers. Part of the reason for this joke is that, in a lot of cases, it's true. Ask anyone who's ever been an intern and chances are, they'll tell you that they spent at least some of the time doing the tasks that no one else wanted to do. It's like the saying goes, "Everyone has to start somewhere."
While there's usually no escaping menial labor as an intern, some programs certainly offer enough worthwhile experience to make up for it. For those lucky enough to land a position at one of the below companies, "gofer" jokes may not apply.
If you've ever seen "30 Rock," then you're familiar with NBC's page program. The program, in which the series' Kenneth Parcell participates, gives recent college grads the chance to work in various departments of NBC.
"Assignments are offered throughout the company, focusing in six major areas: publicity, news, production, entertainment, audience coordination and marketing," says Kara Valko, the east coast coordinator of the program, for which NBC receives about 4,000 applications for 60-80 open positions each year. Throughout the year-long program, pages apply to assignments in the areas that they're interested in, and are selected for each 12-week departmental rotation based on their unique qualifications, Valko says.
In addition to their rotations, pages must also take on general responsibilities at NBC, like conducting studio tours, coordinating ticket sales, and assisting with special events like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Christmas tree lighting. "As representatives of NBCUniversal, pages will be accountable for a wealth of brand- and industry-specific knowledge," Valko says.
Job opportunities post internship: Plentiful. "Seventy-five to 80 percent of the pages land a job at NBCUniversal by the end of their program," Valko says.
L'Oreal offers its 120 summer interns a variety of networking, learning and social experiences during their 12-week stay with the company.
"The events that we host [for interns] include a speaker series where students hear from senior business leaders across the organization and can learn about our brands, divisions and functions," says Suzie Davidowitz, senior vice president of corporate communications for L'Oreal. "In addition, we offer networking events for all summer interns across all functions, and social events for MBA students and undergraduates. We also offer tours of research labs, manufacturing and distribution facilities plus other fun activities in New York City, like a scavenger hunt and an end of the summer bowling activity."
Another great perk? Interns have access to L'Oreal's on-site company store, which offers discounted products.
Job opportunities post internship: "An example of a success story is Ryan Bauer, recently promoted in December 2010 to marketing manager on the L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics Team," Davidowitz says. "Ryan completed a summer internship in marketing in 2007. Following his internship, he was offered a full time position upon graduation from the Ohio State University and joined L'Oreal in March 2008. Ryan was a part of the management development program in the consumer products division where he completed two cross functional rotations as well as an assignment working in L'Oreal Hair Care. In July 2009, Ryan graduated from the management development program and was promoted to an assistant marketing manager position on the L'Oreal Paris Hair Care team."
For engineering students, it doesn't get much better than an internship opportunity at Garmin -- Forbes named its internship program one of the best in the nation in 2010.
Among the various perks? "We offer lunch and learns, where interns get to hear from leaders throughout the company speak about their department and products, and/or give technical presentations," says Carly Baltes, a media relations specialist at Garmin. "Additionally, through our intern social committee, we offer a variety of social activities for our interns over the summer from happy hours to baseball games or movie nights." Oh, and interns are paid.
Also, according to Baltes, the students who come from around the country to participate in the Olathe, Kansas-based program don't need to worry about where they'll live, either. The company provides intern housing.
Job opportunities post internship: "We consider our intern program an excellent pipeline for full-time candidates and all interns are considered for full-time positions upon graduation," Baltes says. According to Forbes, 90 percent of interns get job offers.
According to a former intern, working for MTV is as cool as it sounds.
"There were many benefits to being part of the MTV family," says Klint Briney, owner of entertainment management firm Branded, LLC. and a former intern at MTV's Spike TV network. "We got tickets to different shows like 'TRL' (now called 'The Seven') and 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.' Of course, we also had many parties and functions. My first day on the job resulted in attending a press event at the Trump Tower with Sugar Ray and an Absolut Vodka concert that evening."
Besides parties, concerts and tickets to television shows, Briney says he had the chance to interact with people at all levels and in all departments at the company. "Another perk was the opportunity to interface with other MTV staff and the ability to benefit from their backgrounds," he says. "My immediate boss used to work on the MTV network and introduced me to the people working on the Video Music Awards. I have done freelance work for the VMAs in talent relations ever since. "
Job opportunities post internship: "I definitely know several people who were offered full-time jobs at the balance of their internships," Briney says. But he believes that even students who aren't offered jobs at the network are better off in the job market. "I think students get caught up in the idea that because they are doing an internship at MTV, they must get a job there. The best thing you can get out of any internship is the ability to leverage the opportunity and your experiences to work elsewhere. After all, what company doesn't want to have a past employee from MTV on their staff?"
Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow @Careerbuilder on Twitter.
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