I participated in a terrific chat on Twitter: #MegaJobHuntChat.
During the chat, the moderators’ asked questions about guidelines for internships. From the carefully prepared questions spawned even more questions from the participants. And from those questions were born myriad of clone-like answers and opinions framed as “rules” by which we should all live.
Those rules included how many internships were “enough”, and what number was “too many”. There were rules about relevant vs. non-relevant internships. Rules about for whom internships are meant (and who shouldn’t bother). Rules about taking an internship after graduation, and how many. And – my personal favorite – rules about paid vs. unpaid internships.
In the immortal words of Terence Mann: “There are no rules here!”
In this economy, internships have become a “golden ticket” for those entering the workforce. Overwhelmingly, recent statistics show that those people with internship experience fare much better in our ultra-competitive job market. Many more students, recent graduates and those in career transition are seeking internships to augment their resumes – and employability.
But let’s be clear: there are no rules. None. Except, of course, those you place on yourself – and let’s call those “expectations”.
Robert Bringhurst said: “By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well. That is one of the ends for which they exist.”
No “expert” is capable of telling you what to do – or establishing rules – until they know your career and life goals as well as you do. And that happens rarely.
You decided which school to attend – or maybe not to attend, or maybe not finish. You decided which car to buy. You’ll decide (or have already decided) your future spouse, whether to go after a graduate degree, and which house to buy. And each of these decisions will be based on your needs at that moment, goals for the future, personal comfort levels, financial situation – andyour expectations.
Anyone who tells you different is blowing smoke up your butt, hoping for halo-shaped smoke rings on the other end.
There are no “one-size-fits-all” policies or processes, at any level. Even the most volatile and polarizing decisions – paid versus unpaid internships – depend on so many factors no one can help make that decision for you. And despite what you may have heard from those summarily vilifying unpaid internships… and although YouTern strongly supports a competitive wage for all work done during an internship…
We know far too many people who’ve taken paid internships just because they were paid – and later, wholly regretted that decision. And we know those who invested time and passion in an unpaid internship – and then credited that experience for opening the door to a great career.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t listen, or solicit advice. Like any other major decisions, we hope you have industry experts, parents, mentors, professors and colleagues – those who know you best – to help guide you.
Ultimately, however, how you choose to build the foundation of your career – which internships, how many, when, and paid or unpaid – is a highly personal decision.
Break the rules. Listen to yourself. Choose wisely.
Choose what you know is best for you.
Gradberry thanks our partners at Youtern for this awesome post!
About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and Under30CEO.com regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market – and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” list.