Thursday, December 12, 2013

Complaints; 5 of the most likely gripes you have

I'm almost done ranting, just 5 more points to go!

16. I already do all this. I'm perfect, and everything I do is wonderful.

Well that's great, now encourage others to do the same. Let me clarify; actively encourage. Develop a mentorship program at your institution or in your area. Start a program to fund professional development for emerging professionals, write a crazy ranting blog on the internet for no one to read, gauge interest in starting an apprenticeship program at your institution. And yes, I realize that apprenticeships and internships (if done well) are similar. I am making a conscious choice to use a different word then internship because of everything I just talked about in my last 3 posts. Unlike most internships apprenticeships are a. paid, b. last longer then the typical 3-4 month internship (what can you really learn in 3-4 months?) c. are based on established, formal relationships with programs/schools.

17. I did an unpaid internship so shouldn't everyone else have to?

Bitter much? That's a great attitude for a professional to have. I can tell you work in museums. If your unpaid internship wasn't that great for you and you still hold obvious resentment about it, why would you force others to do the same?

18. I have so much work to do and I need unpaid interns. 

No you don’t. If you can’t afford to pay someone to do work then it shouldn't be done and this needs to be communicated to others. It’s as simple as that. Stop enabling exploitation. Still not convinced? OK, what if your employer decided to stop paying you? Imagine if your boss said this to you; "I know you are a professional and deserve to be paid, but there's still all these projects. Could you just be a champ and come in and finish these?" Oh, that doesn't sound so good does it? You don't get paid but you get professional networking and experience!? What about now? Still don't want to work for free, huh? Networking and professional development don't pay the bills and because the cost of obtaining a degree is now more than most baby boomers paid for their first homes those interns got Bills, the likes of which you do not even know.

19. Isn’t mentoring people for free the same? 

No it's not, but thanks for asking. When you mentor someone you’re providing encouragement, support, and guidance. Those aren't job responsibilities, skills, or tasks. And re-framing internships as experiences and exposure isn't a counterpoint, it’s a deflection. It is every older generation’s responsibility to teach the younger generation the ropes. This seems to have been lost somewhere in the past few decades. It should be a privilege and a joy to learn from our elders, not a burden or a gauntlet run. And before you even think it, YES I do plan on mentoring other professionals as my career progresses. Because, as someone recently said to me in an unrelated conversation; "It's my dream to be part of the solution."

20. I want the experience; I’m okay working for free. 

That’s super, however understand that you are not operating in a vacuum, you’re upping the ante when you do this. Think of your role in the larger system of professionals and the field. Still don't get it? OK, how long are you willing to work for free? 3 months? 7 months? A year? Forever? The longer you are willing to work for free, the longer you will work for free. Why? Because if I know Johnny will work for free for...basically forever, then I can hire Jane, keep Johnny as an unpaid intern and get two employees for the price of one. I know you're thinking that no institution would do that, surely they will see your dedication and offer you a job and if they don't you'll just split after a few months. Well if they can get 3 months of work for free out of out of you before you give up, why shouldn't they just start paying you at the 3 month mark? Saves them some cash and you're happy because you got a job. However what you don't realize is you could have and should have been paid for those 3 what you did was accept a significantly lower salary for a position by throwing in 3 free months of work? What's next, do you have to buy your own computer to go to work? Pay your own healthcare? Pay your own pension. OH WAIT. THOSE ARE ALL THINGS COMPANIES ARE MAKING PEOPLE DO NOW. You see what unpaid internships did to us???!!

So that concludes my 20 points on unpaid internships. I'm done now, I swear. 

WAIT, BONUS GRIPE! I'm throwing in one more gripe because you've been such a good customer.

21. Aren't we just adapting to the new marketplace? 

Yes, we are adapting ourselves right into a hole. There is nothing special about an internship, no training, experience, or networking opportunity that couldn't be accomplished in any entry level job. Sure, let's continue down the road of unpaid internships; "It's just what you have to do these days to be the most qualified candidate. Everything gets harder as time goes on. Once, a long time ago you only needed a high school degree and you were set, then college came along and now having a B.A. is a requirement for almost every professional job. Internships are just part of the process that we have to go through to be professionals these days, it's like the Flynn effect for jobs." OK first re-read all my previous posts. Then do some more reading (by the way, these people all stole my idea....kidding! No, I'm not though). My whole point is this situation is unsustainable so just do something or whatever.

© 2013 Patricia Lord

No comments:

Post a Comment