CUNY Career Launch recruits students without paid internship experience

Mia Gindis

CUNY launched a new program targeting undergraduate students who lack a substantial paid internship experience in their intended career field.

This summer, 2,000 CUNY students will be selected to participate in CUNY Career Launch and intern in a field related to their major. The deadline to apply is April 29.

“Did you know that 82% of CUNY graduates stay in NYC after graduation?” the program’s webpage said. “By working in one of the City’s key industries and networking with employers, you will get a jumpstart on your post-graduation career.”

CUNY Career Launch will reportedly cater to ambitious undergraduate students who are prepared to utilize the skills they’ve accumulated in the classroom for a job.

The program was created in response to a growing demand from CUNY students for more paid work-based learning opportunities.

On average, only about 12% of CUNY students reported completing a paid internship prior to graduation, according to the 2019-2020 Performance Management Process data book.

One report from NYC’s Disconnected Youth Task Force reveals that low-income post-graduates “may not have the benefit of connections to employers” and are “less likely to have regular exposure to careers they may want to pursue.”

The aim of CUNY Career Launch is to remedy this issue by democratizing entry into the postgraduation labor market through paid work-based learning opportunities, according to Arlys Tineo, an administrative assistant for the program.

“We know that a good portion of CUNY students are low income – 2 out of 3 students attend tuition-free – and according to the Mayor’s Management Report, over half report an annual income of less than $30,000,” Tineo said in an email statement. “The CUNY Career Launch model directly confronts this issue.”

Positions are available in a wide range of fields, including computer science, engineering, healthcare, education, public affairs, political science, environmental science, community or social services.

“As a CUNY Career Launch intern, you will have the opportunity to build skills, extend your professional network, add to your resume, and support employers throughout NYC in several key industries,” the application page said.

Participating students will be paid $20 an hour, just five dollars more than New York’s minimum wage. They will have an earning potential of approximately $2,600 for the entire summer.

The program plans to offer a mix of in-person, hybrid and work-from-home roles. However, the latter will be reserved for individuals with health issues that prevent them from working in person.

Willingness to accept an in-person or hybrid position increases a student’s chances of being matched with a Career Launch internship.

Preference will be granted to students with no prior paid internship experience. Required practicums for healthcare, social work and education students will not count as internships, according to the Career Launch webpage.

The program takes place for a duration of seven weeks between early July and mid-August for 19 hours a week.

“You can take a summer class, keep your part-time job, or take care of family while you intern with CUNY Career Launch,” the page said.

The program is being organized by the CUNY Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Programs.

To qualify, students must be between the ages of 18 and 24 and enrolled in CUNY courses at the time of application. Students must also be eligible to work in the United States.

There will be voluntary information sessions in April for students to ask questions about the program.

For any inquiries, students should contact careerlaunch@cuny.edu.