For-credit internships cost more at the UI


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University of Iowa senior Nicole Lumbreras paid more than $1,000 to complete her internship at a digital marketing company near Chicago this summer.

That's more than $125 more than a University of Northern Iowa student would fork over for that same internship.

The reason for the disparity is pretty simple: The cost of a credit, whether it's for a class or for an internship, is more expensive at the UI than at UNI or Iowa State University.

In Lumbrera's case, she had no problem with the fee, which got her three course credits. Further, she received a stipend from the company.

"I was working 40 hours a week, so it would be beneficial to get a course credit out of it," said Lumbreras, 21, a former Daily Iowan employee. "It's almost like a class, but I got hands-on experience out of it."

The UI charges students slightly more than $800 for up to two credits for students to complete summer internships. The charge includes tuition, a technology fee, student-activities fee, and a building fee, according to the registrar's website. Students are required to pay these fees even if they aren't on campus.

ISU charges $755, and UNI charges $670.50.

At the UI, the fee doesn't seem to deter many would-be job seekers: More University of Iowa students are taking internships for credit than ever before.

In the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for instance, the numbers climbed from 64 to 95, a 48.4 percent increase, said Paul Jensen, the internship and placement coordinator for the school.

These students, he said, benefit by receiving guidance from him. He also checked in on their experience throughout the summer.

"You get me watching over their shoulder for the course of the [internship]," Jensen said.

At ISU, one official said the high cost of internship credits is "absolutely" a deterrent for students to register their internships for credit.

Kathryn Wieland, the director of ISU Business Career Services, notes that its business-student internships are even more expensive, costing at least $897 for up to two credits. That number also includes fees that cannot be waived, regardless of the student's internship location. Iowa State University's business program has fewer than 5 percent of the approximately 300 recorded internships registered for credit, she said.

UNI may have the best deal in the state. It charges students roughly $671 for up to two credits — more than $100 less than other Board of Regent schools — which includes a technology and recreation fee.

While many students attempt to achieve internships for no credit, many businesses force them to do so.

Brent Jones, reader advocacy manager for USA Today in McLean, Va., said the company suggests that its interns receive credit from their schools during their internship.

"It's practice because we don't pay our interns," he said. "We try to make sure we offer an educational exchange."

In addition to the daily tasks of the interns at USA Today, Jones said, training sessions and workshops about résumé building and multimedia are offered as a supplement to the experience.

"You're being compensated in some way," he said.

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