Nonprofit opportunities dwindle as demand rises
While the number of students applying for positions through Princeton Internships in Civic Services (PICS) rose to 347 from 310 last year, the number of internships available in PICS partner organizations went in the opposite direction, declining to 56 from 71. The total number of applications processed — as students can apply to more than one internship — rose to 517 from 488.
The reason for the decrease in the number of available internships is two-fold, PICS executive director Seva Kramer explained. “The amount of money available from organizations to support internships declined, and our endowment declined as well, so we have less funding available,” she said.
While Kramer said the shortage of internships is a direct result of the financial downturn, she added that she does not attribute the increase in the number of applicants to the same cause.
This year is not out of line with past trends, Kramer explained, noting that “every year the number of student applicants increases.”
She explained that the Class of 2009, whose members will likely be affected by the current economic environment, is the same size as the Class of 2008. She added that there “might be a different sense around campus about what students would like to do [over the summer].”
The Pace Center, which is still accepting and processing applications, was unable to provide the number of applications it has received thus far.
Pace Center communications manager Catherine Kerr, however, said she believes that the current economic conditions will not significantly affect numbers.
“We’ve been working really hard to raise awareness of public service internships and promote them ... so it would be hard to attribute any increase specifically to the economy,” Kerr said.
Jordan Bubin ’09, who had a PICS internship last summer, said he thought the number of applicants to service internships would likely increase given the current economic climate.
“I think the economic crisis is partly beneficial for ... community service oriented internships, because it increases interest in them, but I don’t think it’s a unadulterated blessing,” he said in an e-mail. “[W]hen the economy improves, those who have joined such organizations ... will be likely to leave them.”
Angelica Ortiz ’12, who submitted an application to PICS, was attracted more by the program itself than a desire to have more security in the job market.
“I actually have a personal interest in the internships, such as those in law programs, so it seemed like the right way to go from the beginning,” Ortiz said. “Maybe if I was a junior my answer would be different.”
Ashley Higginson ’11 explained that she relished the hands-on experience that many PICS projects offered, noting, “I really wanted to work in a non-profit this summer if I could..”
Higginson added that many of her friends were anxious about finding a job at all this summer. “A lot of them are just applying everywhere they can,” she explained.
“An internship within the Princeton community that is ... definitely going to be there is really appealing,” Higginson noted. “The outside job market is really unknown, so it’s good to have a little security.”
“[A]n economic crisis like this, while it increases interest in such organizations, highlights how secondary they are for most people,” Bubin said. “Interest in [these internships] increases only, it seems, when people fear they will not get more remunerative employment.