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Why the ‘Cycle of Internships’ May Not Always Be a Bad Thing

Why the ‘Cycle of Internships’ May Not Always Be a Bad Thing

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…”

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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:

Work experience

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.

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Networking opportunities

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.

Resume boost

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.

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Keep skills sharp

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.

Earn a name for yourself

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.

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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.

Are you an intern? What are some other internship perks you may be overlooking?

Featured photo credit: mugley via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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