My first article for Surviving College is indeed, a rant! If you’ve kept up on the intern-news lately, you would know that there have been a handful of recent lawsuits in the state of New York that may end up causing chaos in HR departments across the country. The recent ruling against an unpaid internship from the 2010 movie Black Swan, as well as the three other recent cases, may endanger the future of the unpaid internships as we know it. As an unpaid intern myself, I’m here to say why you should be grateful for your opportunity.
1. Be Grateful for the Experience
Everyone can take JRNL 101, BIO 104, an intro MS Office class; not everyone can have a hands-on experience in the field of their choice. While your internship may include getting coffee and answering phones, you may also be fortunate enough to do a lot of hands on work instead. Being an intern at the SC HQ, I mainly write for Celebrity Watchdog and have been fortunate enough to already publish over 30 articles in less than a month on various sites. This experience will not only help me as a writer, but it has also helped me learn how to properly pitch a story, how to use SEO, and also the tricks of the trade in social media marketing.
While the laws vary in each state, technically most interns should not be doing the work that an employee would otherwise fulfill. This is one of the main reasons behind the Black Swan lawsuit, and it’s just frustrating. If interns don’t want to do actual work (which means gaining experience) then why don’t they just apply to be a barista?
2. Be Grateful for the Résumé Building
While it could be argued that this equates to experience it really doesn’t. While experience will help you in your future endeavors and possibly also at school, having the internship on your résumé will actually land you more interviews. In the land of blind mailing résumés all across the internet (I applied to 27) without anything substantial on your résumé, you will likely not even get to an interview. What is worse is that many hiring managers will never even see your résumé if it does not make it past computer programs that will see if you are qualified enough. For me, applying for internships freshman year was an uphill battle, but thanks to the amazing opportunity I have been given, I will likely be able to have much higher chances of landing more internships in the summers to come.
3. Be Grateful for the Networking
This especially applies if you are doing an internship in a big city. Being an intern is the perfect networking opportunity. This shows that you are a driven and motivated student who really values his/her career, and this alone will earn you, at least, some respect. Offer to attend any events in your field (alone or with employees), carry résumés with you, talk to strangers on the train. You essentially have a foot in the door to your career, don’t let it just slam on you.
4. Be Grateful for the Fun Time
Having fun at work? Having fun at a job you don’t get paid for? I know it’s a crazy concept but trust me it can happen. Get to know your fellow interns, get to know your boss and the other employees at the company. Chances are they all were once in your shoes and like we talked about up there, they probably respect you for that. Don’t be afraid to joke around (appropriately) at the office, make long lasting connections that can develop not only into professional contacts, but also friends.
5. Be Grateful for the Realization
Even if you hate your internship, it’s a good thing! Okay, hear me out. If you spent all this time in school studying to be an accountant and then at your internship at a firm you genuinely don’t like what you are doing (not just the office or people), that is an invaluable realization. Instead of graduating and doing an intense job hunt, you will already know that you want to change your path, and there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe you even have time to change your major! But, if you want to quit (though we don’t advise it), make sure you go about it carefully.
6. Be Grateful for Getting the Gig
Thousands of people will apply for internships every season, and many will not receive one. You landed a gig that other people would have killed for possibly, so don’t take it for granted. Sure it would be great if you didn’t have to pay for travel every day, but because of all the reasons above, it will all pay off in the long run.