About bridge.jobs

Bridge is a program that focuses on connecting employers and students in Rhode Island. The goal of Bridge is to match Rhode Island employers with talented students looking to gain valuable professional experience. Applying knowledge and skills acquired in college to a professional setting is a vital component of a student’s college education. Students who gain relevant internship experience are better prepared for full-time employment after graduation. By hiring interns, employers gain qualified, career-driven young professionals as employees. Student bring with them exposure to cutting edge practices and technology, new insights and philosophies, flexibility and a thirst for knowledge. bRIdge has a particular focus on connecting students and employers from specialized fields such as Business, Science, IT, Technology, Health, Design, Engineering and Manufacturing. The bRIdge website allows employers to post paid or unpaid internships online and directly reach out to a vast and talented pool of students. College students and recent graduates can sign up and start looking for an appropriate professional learning opportunity in minutes. bRIdge is a program of the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) and RISLA’s College Planning Center of Rhode Island. RISLA has joined up with Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island (AICURI), the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education (RIBGHE) and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce to bring together academia, business and community. If you have any questions about this program or if you need any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Are unpaid internships worth it?

During your internship search, it’s important to understand the differences between a paid and unpaid opportunity. Working for free may not sound like the best way to spend your time. However, there are other benefits that can offset the lack of monetary value and make it worth your while. So before you decline an unpaid internship, consider every aspect of the opportunity. Learn more about how an unpaid internship works and what incentives are available.

Man and woman with documents in an office, smiling, close up

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires for-profit employers to use the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student should be considered an employee. If a student is considered an employee, the student must be paid. Below are the 7 standards for the primary beneficiary test:

  1. The intern must clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation.
  2. The internship must provide training that would be similar to that which would be
    given in an educational environment.
  3. The internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated
    coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The internship accommodates the intern’s academic schedule.
  5. The internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides
    the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees
    while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without
    entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

An unpaid internship is in no way, shape, form, or fashion designed to replace an employee. An intern that is unpaid should not be spending  more than twenty percent of their time doing busy work. This includes errands, filing, answering phones, and correspondence among other things. You are protected by law as an unpaid intern so you shouldn’t have to worry about becoming the office errand person. If this does happen, contact your school career office immediately and let them know about your situation.

Benefits of taking on an unpaid internship may include:

  • Academic Credit – This incentive can be offered in paid and unpaid internships. The employer must establish concise learning guidelines that are agreed upon by both the school and the employer. Choosing an internship for academic credit can potentially suit your needs better than learning in a typical classroom setting.
  • Scholarships – There are some organizations that will offer scholarships to students who participate in unpaid internships.
  • Travel Stipend – To make a commute easier for interns, companies may provide traveling expenses. Since many college students are on a fixed budget, unaccounted for public or personal traveling expenses can add up.
  • Benefits – Completing an internship can at times lead to full time employment. Your time as an unpaid intern can turn into benefits that will roll over once you become a full-time employee.

Paid internships may differ from unpaid internships in terms of workload and flexibility. If you are being paid for an internship, you may be treated more like an employee. You are more obligated to do whatever work is assigned to you no matter how tedious and repetitive it may be, unless of course the learning contract you have in place with your school and employer prohibits this.

No matter what internship you choose, don’t disqualify an opportunity based on pay or no pay. Choose the internship that will stimulate your mind, offer you a great learning experience, and potentially lead you to a full-time opportunity after college.

Visit www.bridge.jobs to search for internships in Rhode Island for free!

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Internship Program Today

While internships are indeed a pipeline for fresh talent and new faces around the office, internship programs (like interns) often need a push to get going. Once that push has been given, it can turn your internship program from competent to great and from an opportunity into a process that delivers consistent results.

To be most effective, the nurturing process should start before the internship itself begins. Getting your interns up to speed on your organization, and conducting a thorough vetting process will set appropriate expectations and prepare them well to start off on the right foot. So, how do you do this exactly?

Hand pointing to Internship concept

Tip #1: Prepare Interns for Success

What are the chief things that employers should be screening for when it comes to finding those interns that are a cut above the competition? In addition to seeking candidates that study a relevant field, have job-related skills, or even have previous experience to bring to the table, you’ll also want to look for interns that have certain soft skills and personal traits that make them easy to train and pleasant to work with like determination, good problem solving skills, and open-mindedness.

Explain what a typical day might look like for your internship candidates. Does your interviewee have a lot of questions along the way? That may show your potential intern is inquisitive and ready to learn. Ask your candidates about their goals after graduation. Have them tell you about classroom experience that would help them do the job. Find out why they want the internship. Are they eager to learn or are they just checking a box for their resume?

Preparing your interns for success starts by choosing the right interns for the job. If you need good communication skills, make sure your interviewee speaks well, explains herself clearly, and brings a writing sample or two. If you need someone more analytical, give them a problem to solve. Leave the room for 10 minutes while she comes up with a solution and then discuss. Find out her thought process. Are her critical thinking skills in line with what you are seeking?

All of the questions you ask in your internship interview should be designed to efficiently locate the interns that are really passionate about the field and have the necessary skills, traits, experience and open-mindedness to be a good fit.

Tip #2: Run an Intern Orientation

Having an orientation for new interns is the best way to establish clear expectations early on let interns know what’s expected of them if they’re to succeed in their new role.

Interns should know from the outset the short- and long-term goals of the internship and how this internship fits in with the company.

Orientations should make the company ethos clear, if it isn’t already, and clue interns in on what they need to do to meet future performance evaluations, daily responsibilities required to successfully carry out the internship, and important company policies to always bear in mind when speaking with superiors and employees as well as present and future clients.

In the orientation you also want to outline a blueprint for how intern supervisors can facilitate the internship experience in a way that enlarges, rather than detracts, from your business resources.

Even if you are a small organization, orientation is a must. Orientation can be a big group session or a simple conversation between intern and supervisor, but it shouldn’t be swept aside just because you only have a few employees.

Tip #3: Set Up a Mentor Program

A mentor program is essential for getting (and keeping) everything off on the right foot.

When mentors first meet with their interns, they should be supportive yet set up clear and practical expectations that both nurture an intern’s development and abet contributions to your overarching organization.

One of the things that mentors don’t often think about – but actually play a huge role in the success of internships – is making sure that the mentor’s schedule is aligned with the interns.

If there are days when mentors or interns are underused or super busy, then your schedules need to align accordingly to make up the difference and synergistically reap more from the mentor-intern relationship.

Want more help on improving your internship program. Download our free Employer Guide that can teach you tips on writing more interesting internship descriptions, show you how to set up a learning contract, discuss legal considerations for bringing on internships and more.

Download the Employer Guide to Creating a Meaningful Learning Experience for Students

Nailing your first professional interview

So you’ve landed an interview – congratulations are in order! You’ll endure plenty of interviews over the course of your career, and while sitting down to sell yourself to a potential employer can be nerve-wracking and intimidating, it’s also awesome practice. You’ll get better every time, and interviewing is an art form in itself!

How to Stand Out During Your Internship Interview

Here’s the best approach.

1. Know your audience

Get serious about knowing the details about the position, the team, and the interviewer. Find ways to discuss the company’s history, mission statement, or current projects. The organization wants to know that you care about them as much as they care about you.

2. Rehearse some answers

You need to sound natural. But there are some questions that you should be prepared to answer.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates?

And of course, the all-important:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself!

Have these answers prepped and ready to go, because these questions are coming your way.

3. Dress for success

It doesn’t matter if the position is likely to require business casual attire, you’re dressing for an interview. Dress up. No candidate has ever, in the history of interviews, been denied a job for dressing too professionally.

4. Make a good first impression

Walk in, smile, and shake hands firmly with everyone in the room. Arrive early. Thank everyone for their time. Sit up straight and don’t fidget. Make eye contact, and be polite to the receptionist!

5. Ask questions that show your interviewer you did your research.

Want to knock their socks off? Mention a specific interviewer’s background when asking one of your (carefully prepared) questions. “Can you tell me which elements of your Database Programming degree from XY University have served you best in your role at this company? I’d like to know what coursework is going to be the most relevant if I’m hired.” Have 3 or 4 questions prepared, and make them sincere – what do you want to know? Remember, this is not a time to ask about salary or benefits.

6. Follow up!

Make sure your contact info is readily available (bring a business card!), and follow up later the same day with a quick email thanking your interviewer for his or her time. Your courtesy will be noted.

There’s no perfect way to interview, but with practice you’ll learn to work the room like a pro and leave a lasting, positive impression!

 

How to stretch your dollar during college

There’s no better time to learn how to skimp and save! Chances are, you’re on a tight budget. We all know well the stress that comes with such restriction, so we’ve put together this handy list of ways to penny-pinch.

Stretched US dollar note

Use your student discount

You probably heard all about some of the local options when you first received your student ID, but remember to use it! Movie theaters, restaurants, and retail shops all offer deals and discounts for students. And there’s more!

  • Save money on shipping with Amazon student.
  • Significant discounts on streaming music services like Spotify.
  • Tech companies like Apple and Microsoft all provide significant student benefits, sometimes adding up to hundreds of dollars in savings on new products.
  • Experiences like museums, symphonies, amusement parks, and other cultural events typically offer student pricing. When in doubt, ask!

Avoid the bookstore

The on-campus bookstore will inevitably include markups that can easily be beat online. Always buy your textbooks used, and rent them when possible, unless you reasonably foresee a need to retain them for more than the current semester. If you’re in the market for college-branded clothing, make sure to shop around online before dropping money at the bookstore – chances are, somebody sells it cheaper. Slugbooks is a great tool for comparing prices on college textbooks.

Park the car

If you can walk or bike, do it. You’ll save a ton of money if you can ditch the car altogether, between insurance, maintenance, and fuel. But even an overall reduction in driving can help plenty, if you consider how much you’re likely spending on gas over the course of a year.

Put away your wallet

Think about what you need to buy, and buy only those things. This is a tough one, because we all enjoy life’s little luxuries. But if you can brew coffee in your dorm or pick it up in the cafeteria as part of your meal plan, you’ll save quite a bit over the cost of daily coffee at your favorite chain. (A $3 cup of coffee every day adds to up $1095 in a year!) Similarly, retail goods are usually the first place most of us waste money. Here’s a great trick for avoiding impulse buys – never buy an item the first time you see it. Try this: “If I still think I need it in two days, I’ll come back and get it if I can afford it” (i.e. not put it on your credit card if you can’t pay it off that month!). You’re likely to decide you don’t need those new shoes after all! Going to a gala? Borrow a dress from a friend rather than splurging on a gown you’ll only wear once. You get the idea…

Cook at home

If you are on meal plan, use it! If you can’t make it to the dining hall, even in the dorm, there are ways to make a decent meal with just a microwave and a mini fridge. But if you’re in more generous housing, use that kitchen! Get together with friends on a rotating basis and make communal dinners. Shop at the cheap grocery store and practice making recipes that can feed a crowd. Restaurants, even low-priced options, are considerably more expensive than anything you’ll make at home.

Get a job or internship!

Even a few hours a week will pad your pockets. Start with your school’s Career Services Office, where the staff will have compiled lists of both on and off-campus positions that might suit your needs. Also check out bridge.jobs for internship opportunities in Rhode Island. While at the career services office, get some help with that resume and brush up your interview skills. If you have experience as a babysitter, server, or retail employee, you’re more likely to land work in a similar vein. But remember that you can diversify if you like, and that new opportunities are always sprouting up.

Living on a shoestring budget is tough, but you’re tougher! Be smart and savvy, and you’ll always have a few dollars left to spend when you really need them.

Resume Taboos to be Broken [Students]

A number that consistently blows students’ minds is the fact that they only have six seconds to grab a recruiter’s attention. That’s how long, on average, a recruiter or employer will initially spend perusing your resume before sorting your internship application into a given pile. Before sending off your resume, read these common taboos and how to overcome them on your resume.

Taboo #1: Over-designing your resume

Although it might sound a little boring to do so, you’ll really be helping yourself out by keeping your resume simple. Now’s not the time to crack your knuckles and put your creative writing and design experience to extravagant use.

resume crumpled

Subscribe to the right resume format, use plain language and make sure that you use a easy-to-read and consistent font. It’s surprising how many students tap their inner Van Gogh and opt for multiple colors or fonts on their resume which makes it difficult to read. Use any bold or italicized text sparingly: Remember that if everything is emphasized, italicized or highlighted then, in effect, nothing stands out. View resume templates online for ideas on what works and doesn’t work.

Taboo #2: Using complicated language and vocabulary

When preparing your resume, you should convey your merits – what you bring to the table personally, academically and professionally – without getting bogged down in technical titles and terminology.

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and bullet point the reasons that you feel you’re qualified for the internship, while keeping in mind common classes employers look for in students. This should entail reading over the internship’s requirements, checking out the company’s website and, if the opportunity presents itself, speaking with former interns to find out their experience. This can clue you into what to de/emphasize in your application.

For example, let’s say that you held a previous internship in which you increased a company’s brand awareness with customers by making social media posts. Let’s also say this was an IT company. Instead of saying that you were a “social media IT manager” explain in one or two plain-English bullet points what you did day-to-day.

Taboo #3: Making your resume too long

You should keep your resume to one page and make it absolutely clear to what position you’re applying. You’d be shocked how often recruiters say some variation of, “geez, that’s great, but what internship is this person applying for?”

Again, remember you only have 6 seconds to capture attention. Don’t add so much fluff that your resume extends into a second or third page. Something important may be missed.

Taboo #4: Keeping your resume generic for all positions

Your objective statement on your resume should be short, concise and tailored to the internship that you’re looking to fill. With your objective statement, you want to imagine the most concise way to summarize your previous experiences.

Suppose you’ve spent the last two years as an editor for your college’s newspaper, contributed two political features for the paper, majored in political science, canvassed for local political candidates, and want to intern with a nationally syndicated political website.

A fine objective statement might read, “Political science major with journalism background seeks to contribute as local politics commentator.” You’re really trying to roll years of previous experience into one digestible chunk for time-strapped recruiters.

Finally, after reading through the company’s website, if you notice keywords popping out left and right, and you feel it’s appropriate to do so given your background, feel free to pepper those into your resume to hold the recruiter’s attention.

Remember, six seconds.

Start your internship search at bridge.jobs.

How interns can make you a better employer [Employers]

Interns offer employers so many benefits it’s hard to tell where to start. In addition to giving companies access to tomorrow’s rising stars, internship programs give you a chance to test drive your future staff.

Taking on an intern can mean putting in a little upfront work, but the payoff is well-worth the initial investment of time.

Benefit #1: Boost in Productivity and Manpower

Speaking of short-term benefits, you can obviously expect to see a big boost in productivity and manpower after you have trained your intern on specific tasks. The increase in manpower can give your regular staff the time to explore more challenging projects and re-invigorate or motivate long-time members of your organization.

Internship

This isn’t a case of one-way benefit, though: Interns themselves get their foot in the door and much-needed work experience. At the same time, as an employer running an internship program, you’ll improve your ties to the community and increase your professional partnerships.

Benefit #2: Interns Can Complete Actual Work Assignments

One of the best ways to get more mileage out of your internship program is giving your interns actual work assignments instead of make-work jobs to do around the office.

Giving interns real work to do increases their engagement through employing their critical thinking, problem solving and sense of camaraderie while providing more benefits to you, the employer.

At the same time, providing more hard-hitting work assignments will help you separate the best interns from the rest.

You’ll find out which interns have the academic and professional pedigree to cut it in your competitive workplace. You could very well also gain insights into what’s working and what needs to be tweaked with your internship program itself.

Benefit #3: Improve the Quality of Full-time Staff

From an employer’s perspective, an internship program should be providing short-term benefits like increased productivity and long-term benefits, namely an improvement in the quality of your full-time staff.

Sometimes the talent is right under your nose but simply needs more incentive to make the leap to your company.

If you suspect that’s the case – that you’re struggling to attract the best talent around – then why not try offering things like relocation assistance or student loan repayment assistance to students to show that you’re serious about finding the best and brightest?

Considering the fact that over two-thirds of employers end up extending full-time job offers to interns, offering assistance – or simply advice – on the most affordable housing in the area or defraying relocation expenses for interns coming from other parts of the country can be huge incentives for interns to pick you.

Offering partial scholarships to local interns or student loan repayment assistance, on the other hand, will increase your ties to the community and put you in touch with even more interns who can help your company expand in the future.

Benefit #4: Internships Increase Your Community Ties

Empathizing with a student intern’s hectic schedule and offering more flex-time for intern work schedules is another great way to attract all-star interns. Give interns set assignments to complete on their schedule, or perhaps even remotely.

You might even consider having a presence on campus with a college recruiting staff comprised of current interns and a few full-time staff to get the word out.

When done right, student interns very often turn into brand advocates on campus. When they’re on-site with your company, student interns are also likely providing a richer social media presence and greater facility with emerging technologies.

Start your search for interns by posting an opportunity at bridge.jobs.

How to stay organized while interning [Students]

Being a college student can feel a little overwhelming. Classes, homework, exams, extracurriculars, and a part-time job – to say nothing of a social life – can quickly add up to a much busier schedule than the one you had as a high school student. Throw in an internship and now you’re expected to fulfill significant professional obligations, too.

So, how to manage a busy schedule while impressing your internship supervisor? Read on.

Learn to manage your time, smartly

Don’t work more. Just work smarter. Figure out what your biggest time-wasters are, both on the job and during the rest of your day, and then eliminate them. For most of us, it’s constantly gazing into the abyss of social media or responding to texts and emails. Put your phone away.

Calender Planner Organization Management Remind Concept

Learn to tackle the big tasks at work, first. If your supervisor has given you a major project, chip away at it aggressively. If you know that every week you’ll be responsible for some basic maintenance tasks that are time consuming and ultimately, pretty boring, hit them first. Do away with the procrastination that runs the schedules of most college students and professionals and you’ll be light years ahead of the competition, and you’ll free up significant time for yourself.

Learn to manage your stress, too

Taking care of yourself is key to managing a busy schedule. Make sure you allow time each week for activities that keep you healthy and relaxed, whether it’s downtime with friends, visits to the gym, or hanging out in a place that you love. Don’t punish yourself by removing those elements when you’re busiest – you’ll only distress yourself further.

Pretty young teenage girl relaxing on a grass

Be open with your supervisor, early

If you’re overwhelmed, tell someone. Your supervisor knows that your schedule is jam-packed, and will appreciate your providing a heads-up when things start looking tight. If you know you’re going to need a schedule change or that a deadline will be tight, talk about it sooner rather than later. These things arise in regular employment too, so you aren’t going to shock anyone – but waiting until the last minute to ask for time away from work or for special consideration will set you apart as an intern with little real-world experience.

Take a few deep breaths and remember that all your hard work will eventually pay off. Lean on those around you, and be gentle with yourself!

Need to find an internship? Start your search at bridge.jobs.