Summertime is approaching so that means everyone has their summer internships in the bag. You don’t? Yeah, me neither.
It’s not that I consider getting an internship unimportant, but I just have a case of lazy bones when it comes to applying. That’s actually the most important part of the process though, so I don’t know what my problem is.
I mean, we only apply to an internship so we can add something that sounds good to our résumés. Once we get it on there, it makes no difference to us whether or not we do it, right? Sorry for the cynicism, but nobody really wants to do all the cutesy work for a company even if it gives us “real world experience,” because we’re still just interns keeping
Don’t misunderstand — a lot of internships are high quality positions and are entirely worthwhile, but those are the ones with meaningful work and significant pay. Think of it this way: for any given intern position, the three possible elements are valuable experience, solid compensation and reasonably low time-commitment. Now pick two.
I think that’s why it seems so hard to choose an internship. Because even if there is a perfect internship made just for you, somebody else probably gets it. And if you’re one of those lucky guys or gals that lands the glamorous position at Nike or Microsoft, I hope you feel special because mostly everyone else resents you.
As for the rest of us, there are always other possible drawbacks to make you think you could waste your summer, such as doing something you’re not very interested in,
being in a ghost town or just working with a bunch of meanies who never smile.
Look, if I can’t occasionally prank my intern boss by unscrewing the legs to his desk chair or changing his ringtone to “Call Me Maybe,” I don’t want to work with him. Honestly, I’m already making enough egotistical sacrifices in taking this position as it is. I need to be able to have fun if I’m not getting paid.
Did I mention that many unpaid internships are technically illegal? I know this because my daddy is an all-powerful lawyer, so I can sue you just for reading this. Or not reading this. You don’t believe me? OK, I’ll sue you for that, too.
But to use a word I made up and be sincerious, there are five criteria besides the non-payment agreement for an unpaid internship to be legal under the U.S. Department of Labor. The internships are supposed to adhere to these guidelines but employers often ignore them.
Altogether, the internship has to be similar to the kind of training given in an educational environment, it must benefit the intern rather than the company, it cannot replace the roles of regular employees by alleviating their work, it cannot provide an advantage for the employer and theoretically should impede productivity, and it cannot entitle the intern to a job after completion.
See, most of these are pretty difficult to uphold.That’s why so many internship postings require students to receive college credit, since there’s an understanding that the position becomes an extension of the intern’s educational environment. If that’s an acceptable loophole, then I’m my own grandpa.
But by all means, I’m not advocating a revolt from internships unless you’re actually getting coffee for people every day — nobody has done that since the ‘90s, which is alarmingly long ago.
What I am suggesting is that you take your internship less seriously this summer because it’s a dishonorable system to begin with. Yet, what’s even more important to remember is that we’re dishonorable too since we just want the extra résumé flair.
So when you mess up on the job, don’t beat yourself up over it because not too many people care. You’re an intern, and that’s your excuse. You already accomplished the hard part of getting the position.