After taking on internship after internship with no end in sight, many students and young professionals feel as though they’re stuck in a never-ending cycle. Lawsuits, accusations of unfair work environments, and poor wages don’t make things any better. A recent New York Times article even suggests the following:
“Call them members of the permanent intern underclass: educated members of the millennial generation who are locked out of the traditional career ladder and are having to settle for two, three and sometimes more internships after graduating college, all with no end in sight…”
The article goes on to explain why so many young professionals feel trapped by the “cycle of internships.” However, though this so-called cycle can seem like a curse, it may not always be a bad thing, particularly in a shaky employment market. While no intern deserves to be thrown around from one opportunity to the next with no avail, there are some advantages of sticking through internships — even if you feel like you’re past the point of being an intern:
The jobless rate for college graduates aged 20 to 24 stood at eight percent in 2013. Taking on another internship can pull you out of this category and provide you with ample work experience. Understandably, an internship after college may not have been your ideal career path. However, the opportunity keeps you active and out of the unemployment market — both of which benefit you and the country as a whole.
It’s all about who you know, right? Well, when you’re looking for a permanent, full-time position, an internship may be the right place to find those contacts. Since most jobs are never advertised, gaining those key connections through your internship — whether it’s a member of the organization or a powerful client — can be the golden ticket you’ve been searching for.
The more experience you have, the more valuable you become. While some suggest the perpetual intern may not be as attractive to an organization, increased work experiences can make you smarter and more creative, thereby leading to more results and career wins. Plus, if you work in different industries or perform a variety of duties, you gain transferable skills, which are particularly beneficial to potential employers.
College is a great place to learn industry fundamentals as well as obtain the necessary skillsets. However, after you cross the stage and turn your tassel, keeping your abilities sharp is up to you. It’s easy to let your skills go stale if you don’t use them; internships are the perfect place to keep them in check. If you look at internships in this regard, they not only keep you fresh, but also allow you to build upon the skills you’ve already gained.
Even if you’re “just an intern,” you still have the potential to create a name for yourself. You can do this by doing more than the bare minimum, asking for real work experience, or even requesting access to a mentor. While these are all small acts, the culmination of them shows you’re really passionate about your job and your industry. Plus, no employer is going to let a good worker go to waste — most will either try to keep you on in some way or direct you to other opportunities.
The cycle of internships is only bad if you give in to the stereotypes. If you read between the lines, internships are still a beneficial way to mold you as a professional and lead you to your dream career.
Featured photo credit: mugley via flickr.com
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