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University of Dreams provides internship experience for a price

BY KASSIE FRIEDRICHS | FEBRUARY 27, 2009 7:30 AM

Though taking an internship through University of Dreams was an “awesome” experience for some participating UI students, others don’t believe the internship organization is playing fair.

But with the pressure to get a summer internship looming, dropping a little green for a fatter résumé may seem increasingly appealing.

UI senior Natalie Onken acquired an internship through University of Dreams during the summer of 2008. Her parents paid the $9,000, but she’ll reimburse them for half after she graduates, she said.
“You’re paying for a lot more than just a premier internship,” she said. “If you were to go out to a new city, you would never know where to live or how to get around.”

After students pay University of Dreams anywhere from $5,500 to $9,500, the private program provides guaranteed internships in a variety of major cities across the globe, including New York, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and London.

The company also supplies housing, a meal plan, planned weekend activities, weekly seminars, and daily transportation to and from work, according to the program’s website.

Onken, a communications major, interned in the art department of Celestine Agency — a hair and makeup artist agency — in Los Angeles. She primarily made portfolios for the artists working at the agency.

Unlike most internships provided by the University of Dreams, hers was paid.

But UI junior Elizabeth Falk still doesn’t think it’s worth the money.

“I think it’s ridiculous you have to pay for the internship,” she said, noting the UI has internship programs of its own. “I’m doing the Washington, D.C., internship [through the Pomerantz Career Center] this fall, and I think it is a much better deal.”

Sean Halbmaier, a UI marketing major, admitted his $8,000 internship with University of Dreams, which his parents paid for, was a bit expensive. But he still felt his two- month stay in Los Angeles in the summer of 2008 was well worth it.

“I definitely recommend it,” he said. “It was definitely the best experience ever.”

The UI junior interned with marketing company Buzztone. Halbmaier’s biggest marketing job was for the movie Step Brothers, he said, which entailed researching high-trafficked locations to plan for movie-related events.

Though both University of Dreams interns considered their experiences valuable, Falk still doesn’t like the idea of having to pay.

“It kind of looks like you’re buying an internship instead of getting it by merit,” she said. “I think it would look bad [for future employers].”

Sara Burden, the career education associate director and coordinator at the Pomerantz Career Center, said although there may be potential for future employers to disapprove of paying for an internship, University of Dreams interns can opt to exclude that information from their résumé.

“Money is a personal thing,” she said. “Personal information isn’t necessarily the best information to put on a résumé.”

UI graduate student Kathryn Fox, said many students might not consider internships through programs like University of Dreams because of economic factors.

Falk agreed.

“I think [the program] definitely excludes people that can’t afford it,” she said. “It’s not really an opportunity for everyone.”


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