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Jobs Watch: The intern hiring index

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Ben Jacklet
Thursday, April 29, 2010

In the best of times, it isn't unusual for talented young interns to work their way into a full time job or, failing that, get snagged by a competitor. In the worst of times, they search and search for something, anything resembling full time work — and eventually move to places like San Francisco, reinforcing the message that Oregon may be a nice place to live, but there are no jobs here.

It's been a rough stretch for the talented college graduates who help us out with paid internships at the magazine. I've watched them scour the Internet for work, only to get more and more frustrated with the state of the journalism industry, the faltering economy and the job market, or lack thereof, in Oregon. We've had several super-smart grads leave us to take jobs elsewhere, only to return shortly thereafter after getting laid off. A second internship may not seem ideal, but it beats going crazy from an interminably fruitless job search.

Well that's changing. Our intern hiring index is soaring, with four recent departures. We will miss them all. But the magazine's loss is the business world's gain, and I like what this development has to say about the long overdue thawing of Oregon's job market.

Two of our departing interns have been with us for over a year. Kevin Manahan, who writes our daily e-newsletter and contributes to the On The Scene blog, is moving on to the brave new world of digital marketing with Tualatin-based NetBiz.com. To those of you wondering what search engine optimization copy writers do, I'll refer your questions to him.

Another standout, Adrianne Jeffries, will be moving on to the Bend Bulletin. Adrianne has the distinction of being our only intern ever to have written a cover story for the magazine and reported from China for OBM. She's done great work for us, and we're expecting hot stuff from her as she turns her attention towards the business landscape in Bend.

Colleen Moran had two stints with us an an intern and recently got a fulltime job with Maxwell Communications. Cameron Asmussen, who brought videos to our online production, was so thrilled to get a full-time job he forgot to tell us where he was working (send us a line, Cam!).

Watching young people struggle and persevere and finally get a chance to prove themselves, seeing the frustration giving way at long last to relief, reinforces the importance of breathing new life into Oregon's job market. It's been a long slog these past two-plus years, but I believe we are emerging from the worst of it. I realized yesterday while reading a notice about the most recent layoff (19 jobs at IGT in Corvallis) that I haven't been receiving many of those grim notices lately. That stands in sharp contrast to the dark days of January when news of another hundred-plus layoffs seemed to pollute my inbox daily.

Key tech employers such as Lattice, TriQuint, and especially Intel have reported stellar first quarters and are expecting to grow through 2010. Portland's Craigslist job count is about double what it was during the worst of the recession. I just had coffee at the Backspace with Ryan Buchanan, CEO of eROI, and he had encouraging things to say about potential growth at his 46-employee company and throughout the broader technology sector.

Things are looking up. At least that's my impression. I'd be curious to hear your impressions. Is business picking up or still sluggish? Are temporary interns becoming perma-interns? Are recent grads wondering what they're doing in Oregon? Or are they finding real jobs with real paychecks?

Are we bouncing back?

Or is this just wishful thinking?

Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.



Kathleen Sumagit-Rivera
0 #1 Don't be so sureKathleen Sumagit-Rivera 2010-05-09 23:40:09
I’m not sure if it is safe to say that things are looking up. Companies are still hiring unpaid interns in order to keep up with costs while still generating revenue. Although that is illegal, many people do not care, because they would whether gain work experience and networking opportunities than spend countless hours searching for a job or paid internship. According to an article by TIME Magazine titled "Working for Free: The Boom in Adult Interns," those incentives along with the economic recession bring very little resistance to unpaid internships in America. “These jobs have become such a widely acknowledged stepping stone to employment that in late March, the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank in Washington, proposed the creation of a federal program that would give stipends to low-income students who take unpaid internships in public service, which the government defines as work at nonprofits and government agencies,” stated TIME. If more individuals are willing to work for free, it probably means that the amount of available jobs is still very low.
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Samantha Luthra
0 #2 Nervous to GraduateSamantha Luthra 2010-05-10 13:03:40
As a junior at the University of Oregon, I have been closely watching my older sorority sisters and senior friends job hunt. It's not easy. I've seen a lot of my friends walk into interviews for entry level jobs only to find themselves competing with people who have been laid off during the recession, but have 15 years of experience in the industry. One friend called me after an interview and said "How do I even compete with that much experience?" My thought is that graduates should highlight the new skills they have to offer that older members of the workforce may not have.
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