on internships

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I recommended that one of my unemployed friends apply either at Starbucks (a huge corporation that is always hiring and providing benefits, even in this economy), or for an internship, since she so publicly whines about being unemployed and that nobody is hiring. She responded negatively to the fact that a company relevant to her interests is offering unpaid internships to two applicants who can live and work anywhere and I’m floored. I’m shocked. What is wrong with people? (And this is completely ignoring the fact that she refuses to even apply at a Starbucks, because she thinks she is over qualified for it. Spare me. Spare me. If you think you are over qualified for a job and you're sitting at home being unemployed, you ain't qualified for shit.)

Do you know how average it is to have a college education these days? Do you know how average it is to have worked a part-time job for a few years and have a resume with no spelling errors? It’s way, way average.

There’s no such thing as an unpaid internship. I mean that you will be paid back over and over and over again for your hard work if you choose the right place that’s offering the right experience. I did a couple internships while I was in college (and two after I graduated, while working part-time at Urban Outfitters); I was so good at them that I was offered a job before I graduated that I later turned down because I thought finishing my degree should have been my priority (this was in 2007, before the big economic crash, when we all still had hopes and the belief that college educations were something to set us apart from our competition). One of my internships after college actually paid me under the table if I'd work after-hours. I worked directly under the company's CEO, out of his house, and he has been probably one of the most influential professional connections I've made yet. Not to mention, to this day, the skills that I learned while busting my ass on a real, professional level are some of the most valuable ones I possess.

Make sure the internship is legal. Make sure you’re getting class credit or that other interns have moved up within the company/have landed jobs after the experience. I’m not saying you should go get stripped of your dignity and left cold and naked on some sidewalk. I’m saying that real ballers create their own destinies by seizing opportunities.

There are probably already a slew of applicants for these positions, as there should be. If you’re one of the folks with a shitty attitude about doing “free work” or temporarily being a barista until you can find a better job (as if your work is valuable because you're an entitled human), know that I personally think you’re playing yourself and that it will only leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Can’t afford to do an unpaid internship? Maybe you need to do an unpaid internship so you can get a better paying job. Suffer for a minute. That’s how this world works. Sorry, kids. I think my life sucks sometimes because I’m so worn down from simultaneously being my own pimp and my own whore, but I still understand that that’s how it works if you want to be great. If you “can’t” do an unpaid internship because you "need to work," you’re imagining that. You can intern on the weekends. You can work three days in an office for free and every night of the week at a restaurant. You can work early mornings or late nights at Starbucks. Get admirable. No one feels bad for you, especially not me.

And I’m sorry if I sound mean, I just really want the best for people. This is all I’m saying: knock the silver spoon out of your ass and go live the American Dream, kids.