Whether it’s unpaid, pitifully paid, or for academic credit, internships are a necessary evil for many Almost Adults on their way to a full-time gig. Internships are highly coveted among emerging adults who seek internship experience in order to pad their resume for this hyper-competitive job economy (even if it’s for little-to-nothing wages). In fact, three-quarters of the 10 million students enrolled in four-year colleges and universities will work as interns at least once before graduation, and up to half gave their services free or had to pay for going to work, according to a recent article from The Economist.
There are the obvious criticisms: Nick Clegg, Britain’s deputy prime minister, has tried to ban them because it favors the wealthy and privileged for being able to, essentially, afford a job. This month, NY Times contributor Ross Perlin wrote how many naysayers consider internships rife with exploitation, a cheap way for universities to provide credit, and a violation of labor laws.
No stranger to the life of the intern, since 2007, I’ve had stints at a fashion start-up, a publishing company, a travel magazine, a television network and now at a Web site. I’ve been through the good, bad, and ugly, and due to confidentiality agreements and for the sake of future employment (read: coward) I’ll stay zip on how each were. Still, I’d like to salute my fellow interns (and aspiring interns, too) for toiling under the bottom rung of the corporate ladder with a comic interpretation of the four stages of getting an internship:
STAGE 1: The Application: You really, really, really want to intern somewhere, ANYWHERE this semester, so you’ve emailed out 20 career counselor-approved sets of resumes and cover letters, each entirely identical except for the respective company/job position that’s changed accordingly. During the mad process, chances are you accidentally addressed someone by the incorrect job title and/or sent some apps to the wrong place. Careless mistake. Oops.
STAGE 2: SCORE! A month later, your generic cover letter somehow landed you an interview for some place you forgot you even applied to. Thrilled, you go ahead and buy brand new, wallet-busting interview attire. You tell yourself (or your parents footing the bill) the powersuit is an okay splurge because it’s an “investment.” Time to brush up on company history (quick Google skimming)!
STAGE 3: The Post-Interview Roller Coaster of Emotions. At the interview you ass-kissed the HR guy, you exaggerated your extracurricular activities, you elaborated on nebulous company expenditures, and you smelled like freshly cut roses to boot. Should you send another thank-you note? Even on a date with Jude Law you wouldn’t be on such good behavior, and your feet still hurt from squeezing into those pointy-toed Manolos, so why the hell aren’t they calling you back?? Its been a whole week!
STAGE 4: CONGRATS…you’re an intern. You were sooo eager to prove your smarts and gung-ho attitude, but you soon realize that your dream internship wasn’t everything you thought it would be. Let’s face it, you are 24 and all you do is desk-jockey, transcribe interviews, take meeting notes, and/or fetch coffee. On the plus side, all your unemployed friends are jealous of you. Hang in there!
Love ‘em, hate ‘em, what do you think about internships? Submit thoughts below!