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A survey taken by of more than 2,500 employers across the country is showing that college students may have a more difficult time finding internships this year because of the competition created by an increased amount of unemployed workers looking for jobs.

Pam Norman, Indiana INTERNnet Executive Director, said her company, which helps connect students and workers to employers offering internship opportunities, has recently been seeing people older than 40 years old competing with traditional college students for internships.

“As a result of the economic crisis, we’re seeing unemployed and underemployed workers going back to school to re-tool the skill set,” Norman said. “Start early, don’t wait until your junior year to get internship experience. It is my best bet that we will see this trend continue for years to come.”

The study released by CareerRookie, a division of, indicates that of all the employers that participated in the survey, 23 percent of those say that they are seeing workers with 10 or more years of work experience applying for internships.

Allison Nawoj, CareerBuilder corporate communications manager, said there are ways for students to better their chances of competing for internships with more experienced applicants, and that students should use websites like Facebook and to create professional networks.

“Focus on what you can bring to the table right away,” Nawoj said. “Really utilize your networking abilities.”

Jesse Hill, junior public relations major, has seen this competition with more experienced applicants first hand when public relations firm MetLife turned his application down because he does not have adequate experience yet.

“They said they wanted a senior,” Hill said. “I guess they wanted more 400-level classes, but I’m only a junior so I haven’t taken them yet.”

Although competition may be a bit steeper for college students in the coming year, another study done by CareerBuilder said demand for workers in information technology and healthcare fields is rising.

Larry Beck, Associate Director at the Ball State University Career Center, said he could not think of any reason why non-traditional students and workers would have an edge over more traditional students looking for intern opportunities.

“Age can’t be used as a reason for hire,”Beck said. “I think what we’re going to see at this fall’s career fair is more companies offering internships.”

Beck also said that lower wage expectations for younger workers could actually give some students an advantage over more experienced workers that they might be competing against.