All work and no pay for most students this summer
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All work and no pay for most students this summer

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Corey Kaminsky, left, works with sales manager Eric Ben-Naim.

You can’t find work until you get experience – but how can you get experience if you can’t find work? And where are the jobs, anyway?

College students are having the most trouble finding a paying job this summer because they aren’t yet qualified to be professionals “such as doctors or lawyers,” says Joe Kaminsky of Englewood Cliffs. A 21-year-old senior at Hofstra University on Long Island, he has one answer to this conundrum: Volunteer.

Kaminsky volunteers in the marketing department at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. His aunt, who works at the hospital, helped him get the opportunity, but many of his friends were not so lucky in their job searches. Kaminsky tried to get a paying job, but was unsuccessful.

“A friend of mine applied to 30 places and didn’t get a single interview,” Kaminsky said.

“Our best alternative is to intern because it looks good on résumés,” he added, “and it gives us experience in our possible fields of choice.”

As a community health major, Kaminsky enjoys volunteering at the hospital and helping people, he said. It is also a bonus that he gets to see his aunt on a regular basis and has family nearby.

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Rachel Steinbach is researching medicine before becoming pre-med.

Twenty-year-old New York University junior Rachel Steinbach, an English major and former Jewish Standard intern who lives in Teaneck, will be volunteering at Hackensack University Medical Center later this summer. She chose to volunteer in a hospital to confirm her decision to go to medical school.

“If I don’t like working in a hospital, it’s probably a good indication that I shouldn’t be a doctor,” Steinbach said, noting that a family friend put her in touch with an oncologist who works at the hospital. He said she would be able to shadow him and do some research with him this summer.

Steinbach said that even if she decides not to go into oncology, the experience will still help her decide if she wants to pursue medicine and be in that kind of environment.

She also hopes to work as a part-time lifeguard, although the pay is low and the classes that she takes to update her certifications are costly.

“It’ll take about 30 hours this summer just to pay for one of the classes, which costs $250,” she said.

Steinbach said that good internships generally do not pay, and that is how it has always been.

“People decide what they want [to do] and make their own decisions,” she said, noting that some of her friends make sure to find paying summer jobs since they do not want to work during the school year.

Steinbach thinks that once she graduates, it will be harder to get into medical school, because more people will be applying. When people cannot find jobs, she said, they tend to continue their education, and medicine “is a pretty secure field.”

Kaminsky’s cousin, Corey Kaminsky, 20, of Oradell, is interning with Aqua-Extreme, a water purification company in New York. (Both Kaminskys attended Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford.)

Corey Kaminsky, a marketing major at Hofstra who will be a junior at the University of Maryland in the fall, works closely with the owner of the company on different ways to “get the name [of the company] out there,” he said.

It is a non-paying internship, and even though there is some compensation provided for transportation, it is time-consuming and costly to get to work, Kaminsky said.

“I have to drive from Oradell to Teaneck and park my car there, then I take the bus into the Port Authority, take the subway to Grand Central, and then another subway to Wall Street,” he said.

Kaminsky takes morning classes at Bergen Community College and needs to be at work at 12:30 p.m. He does not get home until 7 p.m., he said.

Most of his friends are in the same boat and are working as unpaid interns.

Zach Seelenfreund, a 20-year-old political science major at Rutgers, is interning this summer at Sheinkopf communications, a public relations company in New York. This is the fourth summer that Seelenfreund has had an unpaid internship and he enjoys the experience.

“I think it’s better than getting paid for something I don’t really want to do,” Seelenfreund said. He added that he knew what he was getting into and that he was not going to get a paycheck. Interning at Sheinkopf, Seelenfreund follows the different agendas of local politicians, he said. He gathers information online and comes up with campaign slogans for the politicians.

A lot of his friends are working as counselors at day camps, he said, because they need the money. But they would prefer to be working at firms and companies in New York in their fields of interest. Other people he knows have been able, through networking and connections, to get high positions in New York in the fields that they want to pursue.

Seelenfreund wants to go to law school but is interested in getting politically involved as well.

“These internships will pay off,” he said. “I think the economy will be better once I graduate and I will have a better chance getting a job.”

New York University sophomore Ross Kopelman will begin taking emergency medical technician classes this month, four times a week, in order to “give back to the community.” The Englewood resident applied for several jobs locally and in New York but did not receive any responses.

While Kopelman was on a plane earlier this year, a middle-aged man collapsed during the flight and no one really knew how to handle it, he said. Kopelman got up from his seat and found a doctor on the plane, who saved the man’s life. He realized, he said, “whether someone wants to be a doctor or not, it’s important to have the knowledge and be able to apply that knowledge to help someone if they’re having a stroke, or choking.”

Getting the needed skills and volunteering is a good way to make a difference in people’s lives, he said.

One Englewood 19-year-old, however, is beating the summer-job slump. Not only is he earning money, but he owns the firm he works for.

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Oliver Bang is keeping an eye on the foreign exchange markets for Iris Capital Management.

Oliver Bang, a Frisch graduate and New York University sophomore, owns Iris Capital Management in New York City. The young entrepreneur, who will spend the next semester in London, majors in economics and mathematics.

“For instance, what I do with clients,” he explained, “is [put their money] in Australian dollars or overseas stocks, based on the idea that certain economic factors are going to cause the prices of goods to rise.”

He became interested in finance when he was 16 and interning at his uncle’s brokerage firm in Geneva, Switzerland. Studying the financial markets and the current exchange and foreign exchange markets, he saw himself getting involved on the trader side, helping people to manage their money.

Bang started Iris Capital Management in November and says he’s been successful. But his friends are straining to find a paying job in the financial sector.

In that world, he said, it is particularly hard to get jobs and even internships. A lot of companies are just not willing to pay their interns this summer. He feels he’s in a privileged position.

Yael Schusterman is a Jewish Standard intern.

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