With University of Dreams, students pay their way into internships

Danette Spiers

Before summer hits, hundreds of college students scramble to complete their resumes and apply for internships. But instead of using college career centers for help, some students are turning to companies that can guarantee them a job for the summer.

University of Dreams, for example, has worked with 2,230 students during the last seven years, helping them manage their way through the process of finding an internship.

“Finding internships and getting jobs is hard,” said Chris Duggan, president of the University of Dreams. “It’s stressful.”

Duggan said there are students putting together resumes, sending them off to companies and never getting a response.

He said that it could become frustrating for students.

The company has built relationships with employers around the world, and this helps students to have more access, said Duggan.

“When they get a resume from a University of Dreams student, there’s a certain level of interest and trust with that,” he said.

The company expects another 1,300 participants this summer.

Students that qualify with at least a 2.5 GPA can choose from places like New York or Barcelona to work in for the summer.

All the services provided in the program, including transportation, career development seminars and weekend trips, start at $5,000 but can go as high as $9,000, depending on the destination.

Numbers have continuously grown every year for this particular company, yet how realistic this is for the average student is the question that remains.

“Five thousand (dollars) – I think it’s a little steep,” said Paula Pamintuan, a 35-year-old undecided major from CSUN.

Laura Nargi, 23, said she also felt the price was out of range for college students. She said that while she might consider this option if she were a business major trying to get into the industry, she isn’t positive.

“Even though you get your money back if you don’t get an internship, I still would be reluctant to sign up for something like that, but the idea is really cool,” she said.

On the other hand, Kyle Hames, a 21-year-old CTVA major, said he would go this route toward the end of college if he had the means.

“It sounds like it gives people connections they wouldn’t have,” he said.

Duggan said there is sometimes a misconception that the University of Dreams simply places students with the company for which they wish to work.

“We just facilitate the application process,” he said. “They have to earn the interview.”

“You can’t enroll in this program and just be given something,” said Duggan.

When a student is accepted into the program, they have to go through certain steps before they get the internship of their choice. They are first matched up with an agent who specializes in certain fields and gives pointers on what the students need to do to improve their resume.

Students also have to prepare for their interviews with the agent.

“Some students might genuinely benefit from the type of career preparation we provide. They might not actually be able to get an internship without our help,” said Duggan.

Then interviews with prospective companies are usually done over the phone.

“The employer has to select them,” he said.

For students who can’t afford to use such companies to get a step ahead, there are other options like the CSUN Career Center, where lists of internships are available. And pamphlets on how to organize resumes are also there for guidance.

One of the most important things, said Duggan, who used to work at Boston College’s career center, “is to make sure your resume scream to the company that you are perfect for the job. They want to see something that speaks to them.

The University of Dreams headquarters is in Los Gatos, Calif. The company has relationships with small and large companies in industries such as business, fashion, communications and entertainment, but does not provide internship assistance in the engineering, medical, or education fields.