Monday, November 21, 2011

The truth about internships no one will tell you

Internships are the new entry-level jobs. Jobs that entry-level workers used to do are now being done by unpaid interns - which makes it very hard to get a job right out of college. And the only way to make this easier for yourself is to start thinking about it now.

The hardest part about graduating  college – the part most of us don’t think about until once we’ve graduated – is trying to get job experience when no one will hire you if you don’t already have job experience. It is devastating and it’s the thing no one talks about.

College is advertised as this incredibly fun experience that leads to success no matter what. And then many of us go to college, graduate, and then expect the degree alone to be like catnip – something employers can sniff out and will seek out (confession: I thought this). But unfortunately, that is not the case and this leaves many post-grads (like myself) to have an incredibly depressing few months (or years for some) after college.

If you’re anything like me (especially being a first generation college student) you may think getting a college degree along with outstanding college involvement, credentials, and awards would make getting a job easy. It’s not easy. It is so hard. So very very hard. And the more I talk to people (both young and poor and old and rich) the more I hear it’s hard for everyone.

I wish someone would have told me that before I graduated - which is why I’m telling you, so you can be prepared.

There’s not a lot I can do to guarantee that you’ll have an easy time finding a job – it varies so much depending on your major, credentials, and location, and in many ways it is just always a hard process. But I think at least knowing it’s a hard, rejection-filled process that almost everyone goes through can make it much easier on our fragile “I’ve-graduated-now-to-conquer-the-world-wait-am-I-the-only-one-who-can’t-get-hired” hearts.

However there is a lot I can tell you to ensure you will have a much easiER time finding a job than someone who does not do what I’m about to tell you to do. The answer? I bet you’ve already guessed….


There’s quite a lot of “hype” around internships right now and, well, I think it’s worth the hype.

Every internship opportunity is of course wildly different and just getting any internship doesn't mean it will be perfect. Some lead directly to incredible jobs. Some are great experiences but the organization just isn’t hiring when you graduate. Some make people do exciting work that paid employees take credit for. Some are thankless jobs doing grind work like getting coffee (though I think in this economy most of those have already or are fading away), and some are ways to take advantage of the internship system and get work done without having to pay anyone. I've had friends who've had all of these experiences. 

So there is a continuum. And of course – college shouldn’t be all about jobs. Classes, involvement, and appreciating and enjoying that experience to its fullest is so important (I miss it almost every day – and I work at a college).

But – and here is the big but – internships are a must. There is risk involved, like anything, and working without pay can seem like a painful and almost impossible experience especially for students who struggle so hard to pay for college (e.g. I just found out one of my most talented students washes dishes by hand at McDonalds for hours on end to help make ends meet). 

However, if done right, internships can be one of the most valuable investments you can make in yourself, your future career, and your future financial success. I believe they are always worth the risk.

And while a paid internship is amazing – an unpaid one can have a lot of hidden benefits if you choose wisely.

So how do you make the right decision? Where do you find internships? How do you choose internships that will have the greatest benefits for you? How do you make the most of the internship opportunity once you get it?

There is just too much to share in a post so if you’re truly dedicated to finding a great job after college enter in your name and e-mail below and I'll send you my free mini e-book on how to find the best internships, how to get them, how to choose the best ones for you, and how to make the most out of the experience to ensure your future success. (The mini e-book also includes a few sneak peeks of some of my best insider tips that will be in my upcoming book!)

Extra - Intern Word Associations
Before I wrote this blog I asked my amazing Facebook friends to share the first word/phrase that came to their mind when I said the word “internship.” I asked because I wanted to know if anyone else thought of the same things I did – both the good and the bad. And my good friends showed me that I was not alone. Three categories emerged about internships and you can read their first-words below. (I love that someone mentioned Teen Vogue because I secretly blame The Hills for all of my misconceptions about internships, jobs, how to dress for work, and how young you can be to own a house ;)).

Bad treatment/Media stereotypes
Hamilton: Coffee
Susie: work with no pay
Christopher: Getting coffee
Barb: poor.
Darryl: stipend-indentured servitude
Andy: Unpaid
Princess: No $$
Josiah: A smelly cubicle and the multiple coffee cup trays.
Alaina: free labor
Aneela:  teen vogue
Jay: no money
Jessica: Free worker

Jessica: Required to graduate
Caitlin: w/o it..good luck trying to find a real job!
Sarah: Competitive
Robin: The key to getting hired

Amazing opportunity
Edwin: networking, career opportunities, Lockheed Martin
Sarah: resume builder
Matthew: a great opportunity to build your soft skills
Qadira: experience
Chris: Job
Juany: Traveling experience
Yeliz: Skills!
Melissa: Disney :) (the college program) haha i wanted to do it since I was like 10.
Dominique: I agree with free worker, and a great time to learn something successful!
Sana:  Cool job that I will be working in the future
Ale: An opportunity to learn
Duy: moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyy and future and respect and love, dream come true...or so on
Sabatini: I the opportunity to work and assist a professional in the field that you want to undertake later on.

1 comment:

  1. I've had three internships so far and start my fourth in Jan. Each one has been a great learning opportunity. Some of have been paid, some unpaid and some stipend but the benefits I see on my resume make up for any possible negative of the internship.


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