Internship? 2

Question: What is the difference between an intern and an entry-level staff person?

Answer: One extracts free or low-stipended work and while building experience and one builds experience and provides pay and benefits.

Looking at job sites as frequently as I do (for myself and tons of other people I know who are un- and under-employed), I’ve noticed a tremendous number of intern positions.  This is not just true at non-profits but for organizations in the corporate sector as well.

An internship is supposed to be about learning.  An internship is supposed to help you get exposed, make connections, build your resume and get additional work –  that is if they like you, that is if they ever actually hire interns.  Some organizations rely on interns heavily.  It’s become a right-of-passage especially for solidly middle and upper-middle class students and recent college grads.  This, of course, means that few poor and working-class students are able to take advantage of the boost in career and networking opportunities that internships can offer (notice I say can offer because they don’t always in fact provide a career boost).  Very few students of color can do internships because so many come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and so have to earn money to pay their freight.  This means that the work they do is usually decidely practical, i.e., more bread-and-butter than exciting-and-meaningful.

This state of affairs is explored in the book Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy by Ross Perlin. I haven’t read it yet but it is on my list.  Read an article, Intern Nation by Andrea Sachs, to learn more about the book although the title pretty much clues you in to what the book is about.

In the New York Times on 2/20/13, the article, Laughs can be cheap at a comedy theater by Jason Zinman, explores the fact that the all-powerful Upright Citizens Brigarde which has launched dozens of comedy careers, doesn’t pay its comics.  In fact it requires comics to take paid classes before they can audition to be part of the improvisational trouble.  My son, Cyrus McQueen, is quoted near the end of the article.  He is a comic in NYC who performed, both paid and unpaid (mosty) 250 times last year.

Question:  What is the difference between a 30-hour-a-week position and a full-time position?

Answer:  Nothing.  It’s a lie unless you’re literally punching a tme-clock. 

I’ve also noticed a lot of part-time jobs with lengthy descriptions of duties and requirements for low pay.  Exhibit A:

Administrative Assistant

Small professional services firm is seeking an Administrative Assistant to handle all office duties including (but not limited to) sales, service, support, recruiting, human resources, resource management, administrative and reception. The ideal candidate will be a perfectionist, very organized, detail-oriented, self motivated, have great people skills, and work well independently. College degree required. Masters degree preferred. Full time or part time. We conduct thorough background checks. Please attach resume in Word to your response.

Compensation: $15 to $20 per hour

Really?!  Master’s degree preferred for an administrative assistant position that pays $15-20 per hour?

It’s hard out here for those seeking a job.


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About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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2 thoughts on “Internship?

  • Anonymous

    This is a sad but all to true state of affairs for anyone looking to make their way from obscurity in the college ranks, particularly those of color and the lower and middle class.

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