The number of interns expected to be hired for full-time positions at the end of this summer has increased, according to a report released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.The report predicts an 8.5 percent increase in the hiring of interns for full-time positions, while the average hourly wage for undergraduate interns is expected to decrease by 27 cents to $16.21 per hour.Carl Martellino, director of USC Career Center, said internships have become essential for students looking for full-time employment.“Employers are looking for students with not only a degree, but relevant experience,” Martellino said. “Internships are becoming the ‘new interview,’ where companies can see if [an intern] is a good fit to work for them.”Sam Sagartz, a freshman majoring in health promotion and disease prevention studies, said internships are important because they provide hands-on experience that is not available in the classroom.“Internships are crucial in readying students for the workforce,” Sagartz said. “They give students an opportunity to not only see how their field operates, but also to interact with professionals in that field and gain practical experience.”Michael Vazquez, a senior majoring in American studies and health promotion and disease prevention studies, said cross-disciplinary internships can also be helpful.“Internships are important, because they allow you to apply what you’ve learned in the class,” Vazquez said. “My internship was business-related, and even though I’m not a business major, I felt like I could apply the things I learned.”To help students find internships, the Career Center runs the university’s Connect SC program, which provides information on companies in the Los Angeles area looking for students to hire. USC has also enrolled, along with other colleges such as Harvard and Georgetown, in an iNet program that facilitates summer internships, Martellino said.