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Student Blogger: Why you shouldn’t turn your nose up at internships

February 10, 2011

paris mackey25 Student Blogger: Why you shouldnt turn your nose up at internships

Paris Mackey

Recently, an account executive at the PR agency I’m interning for told me about a girl who walked in the door and asked if there were any jobs available. When the account executive informed her that there weren’t any openings, but that she could apply for an internship position, she said she wasn’t interested in an internship. She wanted a job.

Now personally, I don’t approach my job search with such chutzpah (Yiddish for ballsy), but what this girl might not have realized when she dismissed my coworker’s suggestion is that internships are now the entry-level job. It’s the opportunity for an employer to see what a person brings to the table before talking salary and benefits.

It may seem unfair to some – especially those who entered college before the economy turned – but fairness aside, it’s the way it is now. For one thing, employers don’t have time to train someone who comes in for an entry-level job. The time loss is too valuable to spare. And with budgets being so tight, most employers don’t have the leeway to hire someone without a test run.

Also, if there are positions available, an employer wants to make sure they get the best candidate possible for the job. The only way to give yourself a fighting chance at being the best is by doing internships.

Building your resume strategically also helps. Personally, I try to search for my dream job description and read a bunch of them. I see the list of qualifications that they’re looking for and,if I lack those skills,try to find an internship where I’ll be able learn them.

Not only are internships the new entry-level job, but it also takes internships to get internships. It’s a perpetual system that rewards those who continue to work at it.

Here’s the silver lining: If you’re an intern at the right place and at the right time, you have a good chance of transitioning into that entry-level job. By that point, you’re already trained, they’ve decided you’re a good cultural fit and you’re familiar with clients and services.

Having internship experience shows dedication that speaks volumes about the type of person you are – and the type of employee you’ll become.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah February 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

On the other hand, sometimes an unpaid internship isn’t feasible for a variety of reasons. I totally agree that the experiential aspect of training and being an intern has become so important, and it’s why I work with my students to try to encourage them to take advantage of internships and such when it’s feasible. However, sometimes it’s a necessity to have a paid job, or a full time position for other reasons…

Reply

Paris Mackey February 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Sarah, thanks for the comment. No one understands the necessity of finding something that pays more then me. But I also look at it this way. Why not spend time gaining experience; continuing to looking for something that’s paid. Everyone’s circumstances and perspectives are different, but at least for me, I’m still looking for that paid position while I’m a unpaid intern. Whether a paid position comes from it or not, it’s experience I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed looking for a job.

Reply

Sarah February 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Oh, I agree that an unpaid internship while looking for paid work is a great idea – as long as there is the flexibility with the company to leave, reduce hours, or alter the schedule if paid employment comes along :)

Reply

Sarah February 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

On the other hand, sometimes an unpaid internship isn’t feasible for a variety of reasons. I totally agree that the experiential aspect of training and being an intern has become so important, and it’s why I work with my students to try to encourage them to take advantage of internships and such when it’s feasible. However, sometimes it’s a necessity to have a paid job, or a full time position for other reasons…

Reply

Paris Mackey February 10, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Sarah, thanks for the comment. No one understands the necessity of finding something that pays more then me. But I also look at it this way. Why not spend time gaining experience; continuing to looking for something that’s paid. Everyone’s circumstances and perspectives are different, but at least for me, I’m still looking for that paid position while I’m a unpaid intern. Whether a paid position comes from it or not, it’s experience I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed looking for a job.

Reply

Sarah February 10, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Oh, I agree that an unpaid internship while looking for paid work is a great idea – as long as there is the flexibility with the company to leave, reduce hours, or alter the schedule if paid employment comes along :)

Reply

Ryan Winn February 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Great post. In the UK I know internships have taken over the role of the entry position. This is more realistic over there however because university education is a fraction of the sum. For me as a good student, graduating with more than my fair share of student loans an internship wouldn’t be feasible for me. I have done six of them in college and with no disrespect to employers I want a paying position.

Reply

Tennis & Travel YoPRo February 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Ryan, I empathize with you! I can hear the collectors knocking on my door :) But like I said in my previous post… With each internship, you add to those qualifications that make you more viable for a paid position. At least with an unpaid internship, I still feel in the game, until my shot presents itself. Good luck to you!

Reply

Ryan Winn February 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Great post. In the UK I know internships have taken over the role of the entry position. This is more realistic over there however because university education is a fraction of the sum. For me as a good student, graduating with more than my fair share of student loans an internship wouldn’t be feasible for me. I have done six of them in college and with no disrespect to employers I want a paying position.

Reply

Tennis & Travel YoPRo February 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Ryan, I empathize with you! I can hear the collectors knocking on my door :) But like I said in my previous post… With each internship, you add to those qualifications that make you more viable for a paid position. At least with an unpaid internship, I still feel in the game, until my shot presents itself. Good luck to you!

Reply

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