I know. This is way too quick to write my next post, but too bad. This is time sensitive.
As the general job market worsens (I don’t believe the latest drop to 646K in jobless claims is at all an accurate indicator), so do prospects for summer internships and jobs for college students. I have enjoyed the hardship that is recruiting season at a school full of Type-A go-getters. Fortunately, for me times were good, and finance jobs were available basically to anyone that had read “When Genius Failed” or “Liar’s Poker” and rocked a 3.0 GPA. Alas, overachieving college sophomores and juniors, times are different, and interviewing for internships is hypercompetitive. I have had undergraduate students, mostly on the business major path, ask me for advice on what to do when the ideal summer gig isn’t available. I usually suggest being creative in the downturn (as does everyone else). I advise them to do something even remotely related to what the ideal job would have been (as does everyone else). I tell them to hang in there, and stay positive (yeah . . . you get the idea).
Everyone has been talking about innovation being born in times like this, and I agree. Opportunity cost is so much lower considering the higher level of risk involved in previously “safe jobs” and the lower short-term earnings potential in finance. So one thing I do suggest for college students is to look at operational roles in non-traditional and early stage companies. The problem here is that many of these companies do not have formal programs, and let’s face it, if you are a business or engineering major, you are probably somewhat risk-averse and cling to the comfort of a formal program. Startups also often want more experienced folks. Given the job outlook, the current talent pool can only hurt the inexperienced even more (admittedly, this last point applies to me too).
Obviously, this rambling is leading to something more positive. Today I discovered an awesome opportunity to work for startups in a formal program. It is offered by True Ventures (investors in Automattic/WordPress, Meebo, GoodReads, etc.) and is called True Entrepreneur Corps. It is an 8-week program for 2010 and 2011 grads and includes a small end-of-program stipend. More importantly, it sounds like a great experience targeted at this unaddressed yet still unemployed crowd. The best part is that the deadline is still a couple weeks away on April 15, 2009. So if you qualify, give it a chance. Perhaps, you’ll come out of it with an entrepreneurial bug and will be off changing the world in no time at all.