Financial advice website WalletHub released a of the 150 best cities for college students to spend their summers in. Philadelphia was ranked 98th.
Among other notable cities that made the list were New York ranking at number 101, and Washington D.C. ranking 15th. The number one spot went to Orlando, Florida.
Anne Marie Gercke, the associate director of Career Services for the College of Arts and Sciences, said the list had some “red flags” and may be misleading for Penn students. It assesses all jobs available in these cities — which WalletHub Communications Manager Diana Popa confirmed — and not just pre-professional internships.
The list averages several metrics — summer job availability, internship availability, summer job growth, costs of living and the quality of life for young people in each city — to ultimately determine which are the best cities for college students in the summer.
Popa shared the data breakdown for Philadelphia: The city happens to be ranked 14th for internship availability, though it’s ranked 111th for summer job availability. Philadelphia received poor ranks for its minimum wage — the federal lower limit — and its small share of the population aged 16-24 and its underemployment rate. However, according to WalletHub, Philadelphia has the best access to public transit of any city.
Gercke said she’s never come across a Penn student who was unable to find a summer opportunity in Philadelphia. She added that Philly is a top city for Penn students’ summer employment and that Career Services partners with the Campus Philly organization to helps students find city jobs.
“Of course, at vacation towns, there’s going to be an influx in the summer of opportunities,” she said, of jobs in Orlando. “[These] are perfectly great jobs for the summer but maybe aren’t as pre-professional as the jobs typical Penn students are looking for.”
Is there a “Penn bubble” when it comes to internships?
Penn is the largest employer in Philadelphia with local employees, per the Philadelphia Business Journal. Penn was also the top workplace for the College students and Engineering students that career services surveyed after the summer of 2016.
Rising College sophomore Michelle Lu said all her friends staying in Philadelphia this summer are working for Penn. She’s also working in the city, interning for a short period with the Philadelphia Orchestra, a position she received through a Penn program. She’ll start another internship with the House of Representatives in D.C. after the orchestra finishes its tour.
Lu noted that it seems easier to find a summer job at — or through — Penn than trying your own luck at other employers in Philadelphia.
Rising College and Wharton sophomore Jay Vaingankar agreed, adding that it can be difficult to break the Penn bubble when finding summer jobs.
“I think there just happen to be a lot of opportunities at Penn,” Gercke explained. Students, particularly in their freshman and sophomore years, often tend to apply for research opportunities with the University.
Philly’s a tough market to crack
Rising Engineering senior Anand Desai said many work-study students spend vacations working for Penn, as he has done in the past. Rising Wharton sophomore Casey Linehan found this a barrier, as she is not eligible for work-study and could not apply for many positions at Penn.
After sending in 40-50 applications, Linehan found an unpaid internship researching for a Philadelphia nonprofit. She also secured a part-time, paying job at Kiwi frozen yogurt.
Though she struggled to find a job in Philadelphia, she attributed most of her difficulties to her standing as a rising sophomore.
Vaingankar agreed. He said he fared a bit better in D.C. than he did in Philadelphia, as fewer D.C. jobs expressed that they would not hire rising sophomores like himself. Most Philadelphia jobs he was interested in only wanted upperclassmen.
Perks to staying in the city
Desai — working at a D.C. consulting firm — and Vaingankar will both be living in student housing at George Washington University, as they said summer housing in D.C. is much more expensive than that in Philadelphia. Lu, also working in D.C., shared similar concerns.
Vaingankar added that Philadelphia is a fun city for young people like himself, with museums and center city so close to campus.
And as Gercke reminds, the largest percentage of Penn students stay in Philadelphia over the summer.
“There are plenty of opportunities at the University as well as in the city itself,” she said.
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