Internships: Awesome or Exploitation?
Some people think internships suck:
- The pay is usually terrible (or non-existent)
- You wind up doing other people’s errands some of the time
- The work isn’t terribly exciting
- Nobody calls you by your name (“Hey intern!”)
But you know what? It beats sitting on your sofa watching Jerry Springer every day after class. Try putting that on your resume and see what happens.
Internships are about experience, and you have to get that where you can. Even if it means being “Intern!” for a few months.
Lack of Experience
It’s one of the loudest complaints you’ll hear from employers and from employees, especially young ones.
How am I supposed to get experience if all the jobs I’m looking at demand 1-2 years of experience and I just graduated?
I covered this in Not Enough Experience? Get Some, and one of the best ways to get some experience is through an internship.
It doesn’t matter if you’re getting paid or not.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re being exploited (you are).
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like getting bossed around (get used to it).
It’s time/money in exchange for experience.
Internships aren’t just about filling out your resume (although that is important), there are a bunch of other reasons why young people should get one:
- Network: Add everyone you meet to your LinkedIn network on day one, they will come in handy.
- Potential job: Lots of people get a full-time offer after interning.
- Variety: Odds are you’ll get to do lots of different things. Find out what you like and don’t like.
- Skills: Learning a new piece of software, taking some training, interpersonal skills, etc. Soak it all up.
- References: If you have real people at a real company to vouch for you, it will go a long way at your next interview.
This happens. Some employers don’t see internships as a trade, they see it as cheap labor.
You want to try to stay away from these places, but if you find yourself being exploited try to fight to get what you came for: experience. Do the job they ask of you and try to find a good guy/girl in the company that can help you build up your skills and make the most of it.
Overall, I still think internships are a great way to get the experience you need. There are some bad eggs out there, but I have nothing but good things to say about them.
What’s been your experience with internships? Good? Bad? Ugly?
Image by dumbledad