Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: Introduction
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Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: Introduction

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These days, going to college and getting that coveted degree may not be enough to land you your dream career. In reality, the job market is so saturated with competition that internships are the ...

These days, going to college and getting that coveted degree may not be enough to land you your dream career. In reality, the job market is so saturated with competition that internships are the latest rung on the ladder leading to the entry-level job. But, have the stereotypes of interns going on coffee runs, making copies, and not getting paid been greatly exaggerated--and even tarnished the process?

There are a lot of misconceptions about--and controversies surrounding--internships, mostly negative for both the intern and the employer. In fact, internships have essentially become nothing more than a “necessary evil” to many. Let’s face it: The system is broken and needs to be repaired.

Order now: http://heatherhuhman.com/internshipbook

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Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: Introduction Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: Introduction Document Transcript

  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleCopyright © 2011 Heather R. HuhmanAll rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording, or otherwise without written permission from the publisher.Published by Happy About®20660 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 210, Cupertino, CA 95014http://happyabout.comFirst Printing: June 2011ISBN: 978-1-60005-203-3 (1-60005-203-7)Place of Publication: Silicon Valley, California, USACover Art: Ranilo Cabo (ranilocabo@yahoo.com)TrademarksAll terms mentioned in this book that are known to be trademarks or service markshave been appropriately capitalized. Neither Happy About®, nor any of its imprints,can attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in this book should notbe regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.Warning and DisclaimerEvery effort has been made to make this book as complete and as accurate aspossible. The information provided is on an “as is” basis. The author(s), publisher,and their agents assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Nor do theyassume liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss ordamages arising from the use of information contained herein. -2-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleA Message from Happy About®Thank you for your purchase of this Happy About® eBook. It is available online athttp://www.happyabout.com/liesdamnedliesinternships.php. • Please contact us for quantity discounts at sales@happyabout.info • If you want to be informed by e-mail of upcoming Happy About® books, please e-mail bookupdate@happyabout.infoHappy About® is interested in you if you are an author who would like to submit anon-fiction book proposal or a corporation that would like to have a book writtenfor you. Please contact us by e-mail at editorial@happyabout.info or phone (1-408-257-3000). -3-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleTABLE OF CONTENTSForeword ................................................................................................................................. 6Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 8 What is an Internship? ....................................................................................................... 8 Why This Book? Why Now? .......................................................................................... 12 Why Me? ............................................................................................................................ 14 Laws Surrounding Internships ....................................................................................... 14 What You Can Expect .................................................................................................... 15Chapter 1: Recent Controversies Surrounding Internships ........................................... 16 Unpaid & For-Credit-Only Internships ........................................................................ 16 Pay-to-Play Internships ................................................................................................... 25 Interns as Employee Replacements............................................................................... 27 Hypocrisy & the Fair Labor Standards Act.................................................................. 29 Ross Perlin’s Intern Nation ............................................................................................... 29Chapter 2: The Importance of Internships ...................................................................... 32Chapter 3: Characteristics of a Good Internship Program ............................................ 38Chapter 4: How to Create an Internship Program .......................................................... 43 Step 1: Things to Consider ............................................................................................. 43 Step 2: Setting Goals........................................................................................................ 45 Step 3: Writing a Plan & Program Design .................................................................... 46 Step 4: Recruitment.......................................................................................................... 47 Step 5: Management......................................................................................................... 49 Step 6: Providing Feedback & Evaluating Your Intern ............................................. 50 Step 7: Evaluating Your Program & Making Necessary Changes ............................ 52 -4-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleChapter 5: Current Problems & Possible Solutions ........................................................ 54 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) & Compensation .................................................. 54 Protection for Interns ...................................................................................................... 56 Regulation of Good versus Bad Internship Programs ............................................... 56 Interns Replacing Regular Employees .......................................................................... 57Chapter 6: When Internships Go Bad .............................................................................. 60Chapter 7: Interns: How to Turn Your Internship into a Full-Time Position ............ 69Chapter 8: Employers: How to Turn Your Interns into Full-Time Employees ......... 74Conclusion............................................................................................................................. 77About the Author ................................................................................................................. 80 -5-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleFOREWORDWhat happened to internships, in their purest form, representing the opportunity forexperiential education?When did we begin openly debating unpaid versus paid internships – caring onlyabout the “paid” issue, with hardly a mention of the quality of the experience?How did we let the poor economy dictate – even dilute – our expectations of theinternship as a whole?In the old days of labor unions and skilled craftsmanship, there was a clear ascensionthrough the ranks of the employable: emerging talent would serve as an apprenticeunder a master-craftsman turned mentor, thoroughly developing a specific trade orskill. Today, that process is completed – for many – through internships.Instead of fostering a positive entrance into the workforce, we have allowed a sixty-five-year-old policy, 1 a labor law that doesn’t even mention the word “intern,” andresults of unfortunate choices made by interns themselves to create a firestorm ofcontroversy, false prophets, and used-car-salesman techniques surroundinginternships.Our government (“see no evil”), our higher education system (“hear no evil”), andthe worst of them all to some, corporate America (the antithesis of “do no evil”) arethe proverbial Three Wise Monkeys. They simply deal with impropriety and inequityby feigning ignorance and refusing to acknowledge the issue in a meaningful way.This “blind eye” policy allows less ethical people to expect interns to work forty,fifty, sixty hours a week with no pay. Others are emboldened to speak of “internprofits” in a get-rich-quick mentality with zero fear of consequence. Still more, in anattempt to fix a system that is clearly broken, turn to the written word; in the pastyear alone, entire novels, dozens of op-eds, and thousands of blog posts haveappeared – all on the subject of “fair” internships and the “exploitation” of interns.1"elaws - Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor," United States Department of Labor, accessed May 21, 2011,http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/trainees.asp. -6-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleAt first glance Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth about Getting from Classroom toCubicle appears to be yet another entry into the written word category, but it seeks tocalm the controversy surrounding internships. Heather Huhman – a genuine andwell-respected professional firmly entrenched in the internship and entry-level jobindustry – emphasizes real suggestions to improve the situation. Most importantly,her solutions – aimed at intern candidates, mentors, employers, nonprofits, careercenters, higher education, and our government (specifically, The Department ofLabor) – are relatively simple to implement and would make all parties involvedaccountable for their actions and decisions.If nothing else, this work – regardless of the lack of effort by the Three WiseMonkeys – will make you think. How important are high-quality, mentor-basedinternships to education and our economy? As an intern, should you really allow acompany to use you as free labor? As an employer, is it right to exploit young talentto save a few dollars? What can you do personally to provide mentorship to a youngprofessional instead of contributing to even the perception of exploitation?I encourage you to think creatively as you read, then to offer and implement yourown solutions. Resolve to make the internship experience a positive introduction tothe workforce for our future workers, leaders, and entrepreneurs. Mark Babbitt, CEO of YouTernA passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneurand mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, andUnder30CEO.com regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market. He wasrecently honored as one of GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” 2 list.2 "The Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors List," GenJuice, accessed June 1, 2011,http://tinyurl.com/3oen7jk , www.genjuice.com/community/the-top-100-most-desirable-mentors-list/page/6/. -7-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleINTRODUCTIONSpoiler alert: I’m an internship advocate. Perhaps more importantly, I’m an internadvocate.I’ve dedicated my life (and in some ways, my career) to helping young professionalsfind, land, and succeed in their first jobs out of college – and internships play a bigrole in this process.Now, just because I’m an advocate doesn’t mean I don’t see problems with thesystem. Plenty of important issues exist and will be discussed in depth in this book.It’s safe to say there’s no such thing as “perfect”; our current internship process isfar from ideal – and we need to work together to do better for our future leaders.What is an Internship?One common complaint is the lack of an official definition of “internship,” and thusparticipants receive extremely varied experiences. Let’s change that, shall we?The following blog post, “Empower Yourself! Write Your Own Definition of‘Intern,’” 3 was written by Dave Ellis of YouTern, which connects emerging talentwith dynamic start-ups, change oriented nonprofits, and driven entrepreneurialmentors: I looked up the definition of “intern” on Dictionary.com. I was surprised to read the first entry: “To restrict to or confine within prescribed limits[.]” Then I realized that in this case the meaning referred to captivity during wartime (i.e., internment). I read further and found something more along the lines of what I was3Dave Ellis, “Empower Yourself! Write Your Own Definition of ‘Intern,’” The Savvy Intern (blog),May 18, 2011, http://tinyurl.com/3c7av3c ,www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2011/05/18/empower-yourself-write-your-own-definition-of-%E2%80%9Cintern%E2%80%9D/. -8-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubiclelooking for: “A person who works as an apprentice or trainee in an occupation to gainpractical experience.”When I thought about it further…although those definitions are in verydifferent contexts, combined they create a single definition befitting of whatmany people think of interns:Intern (v): To restrict to or confine within prescribed limits, a person who works as anapprentice or trainee in an occupation to gain practical experience.That combined definition is a good summation of how manyinexperienced internship seekers view internships, and their role asan intern. They may project that in an internship one is severely limited –confined by the role’s traditional perception where the skill you’ll improvebest is the speed at which you deliver coffee.If that is indeed how you think you’ll spend your days as an intern…let’s getyou a new definition.I challenge you to view your role as an intern as empowered…ashaving choices…as being able to get coffee only for yourself!Let’s look at some common perceptions about internships that fit mycombined definition above, and why those misconceptions need to berevisited.I’m Too Young (or Too Old) for anInternshipCompanies realize that emerging talent has a lot to offer. Today’s youngworkers are the first generation to grow up immersed in technology, on theInternet and with social media, for example – important skills to manybusinesses. Start looking for internships while still in high school, andcertainly during your freshman year. Don’t wait…your careercompetition isn’t!Think interns can’t have a couple of grey hairs? Workforce veterans arefinding internships a valuable resource to transition into new careers.Companies are often happy to bring your experience on-board, and often -9-
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubiclethese internships turn into full-time positions.I Have to Live Near the Company Offeringthe InternshipIn the past, one most often found an internship in their town, or theyrelocated for a few months to participate.Today, however, more companies offer “virtual” internships. Throughsocial media, Skype, instant message, and email, one can live in theMidwest…and intern for a company in New York City. The intern gainsvaluable business experience at a flexible pace, with no commute orrelocation!Only Large Companies Offer InternshipsThe Disney’s, Google’s, Procter & Gamble’s, and “Big Six” accountingfirms still have the internship cache. However, there are thousands of start-ups, entrepreneurial small businesses[,] and non-profits in all industriesmore than eager to hire interns!These small-team organizations offer the same experiential education andmentorship as a large corporation. At these smaller companies, however,interns participate closer to the core decision making processes of thebusiness. In quite a few small business internships, interns arementored directly by high-level executives and even the CEO. (Goodluck working directly with Robert Iger or Eric Schmidt of Disney orGoogle.)An Intern is “Just an Intern”If you find yourself making coffee and copies in your internship…You either made a bad choice in the company where you chose to intern, oryou’re making bad choices during your internship.An internship is no different than any other business position…to a large - 10 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicledegree you can “make your own position.”Granted, you’re an intern…you’re not an executive. You’re learning andgaining your first business experiences. But because you’re the “new kid”doesn’t mean you have nothing to contribute. Take it upon yourself to be apro-active intern – and create your own position.At every company one can identify inefficiencies in the business process. Inyour spare time, or [on] your own time, put together a project plan andpresent it to your supervisor. Detail your project’s goals and a timeline.Make an impression and an impact during your internship. You’ll learnmore, and will likely come away with a stellar recommendation…andmaybe even a job offer!To paraphrase an old Oldsmobile commercial, “This isn’t your father’sinternship.”Interns today have more choices – in terms of both companies andindustries – in which to intern. And they have vastly more resources forfinding internships than at any time in the past. No longer are you asrestricted by age limits, geographic considerations, company sizes –or an outdated definition of what it is to be an intern.Let’s embrace a new, empowered definition…Intern (v): To gain business experience while contributing your already developed valuableskills; an empowered team member who learns through hard work and mentorship in adynamic business environment. - 11 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleWhy This Book? Why Now?“Free labor.” “Slave labor.” No, that’s not how companies see interns; that’s howinterns see themselves. It’s time for interns and potential interns to stop playing thevictim and take control of their careers!If you can’t afford an unpaid internship, don’t take it. If you don’t receive any benefitfrom a for-credit-only internship (other than the experience), don’t take it. No one isforcing these options on you!History lesson: Slaves didn’t have a choice. You do.There are millions of available internship opportunities in the U.S. alone. Many dopay – and don’t require you to fork over money upfront for the opportunity. Makethe right choice, for you!It’s time to face the harsh reality that the world of work has changed dramatically inrecent years. Argue all you want about why and how unfair it is, but good luckchanging things “back to the way they were.” If you think about it, the workplace hasalways been changing and evolving. You’re probably just noticing it more nowbecause you’re ready to join the workforce.Throughout your life, you were probably told that a college degree would guarantee - 12 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicleyou a job after graduation. Nope. Once you started college, everyone told you to getas many internships as you could and that would guarantee you a job aftergraduation. Wrong again.Let me give you an analogy.If you bought a treadmill, would you be guaranteed to lose weight? As a formertreadmill owner, I can tell you the answer is “no.” In order to lose weight, you haveto use the treadmill – it can’t just sit there collecting dust. And trust me, complainingabout the fact that you’re not losing weight doesn’t help either! Instead, you need toget off your butt and accept the fact that weight loss will only happen when you takethe appropriate action with the treadmill: burning more calories than you consume.The same applies to your entry-level job search.Trust me, you’re going to need the degree and the internships (just like the treadmill),but having them simply isn’t enough. The people who get hired do more than pull alltheir information together on a resume and submit it to a job board. They analyzetheir online presences for “red flags,” get their cover letters and resumes in shape,join and engage in professional and social networking communities, create onlineportfolios, start professional blogs, utilize search engine optimization to get found onGoogle, become experts in their fields, and take other actions to go above andbeyond their fellow candidates. 4Not every single person deserves or is a good fit for every single job (or internship).Rejection is going to happen during your job search. Life is tough, but the goodthings in life are worth working and fighting for.Yes, the system is broken, and it’s about time we work together to fix it. However,you must stop blaming the system – and take back control of your career.4Heather R. Huhman, Attention Job Seekers: Your Search is at Stake! 9 Steps to Becoming an Expert Marketer& Getting Hired in Today’s Digital World (Heather R. Huhman, 2011), http://tinyurl.com/3v8sw7y ,www.slideshare.net/ComeRecommended/attention-job-seekers-your-search-is-at-stake-9-steps-to-becoming-an-expert-marketer-getting-hired-in-todays-digital-world. - 13 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleWhy Me?I’m a five-time intern. I have been hiring and managing interns for the past decade.Because of my experience, I’m a verbose writer for many different outlets (includingU.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal) offering internship and entry-level advice and counsel.Because of my reputation in the internship space, I am honored to work with andconsult many true experiential education experts and advocates – and I’m proud toinclude the opinions of many of these colleagues throughout this book.Laws Surrounding InternshipsDid you know there are laws that govern internships, particularly unpaid ones? Manypeople don’t. So, what exactly are these laws? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 5states: 1. The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to what would be given in a vocational school or academic educational instruction; 2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees; 3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation; 4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded; 5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and 6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.This law is clearly open to interpretation and needs a serious update; I take a firstshot in Chapter 5.5"elaws - Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor," United States Department of Labor, accessed May 21, 2011,http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/docs/trainees.asp. - 14 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleWhat You Can ExpectThroughout this book, the following topics will be discussed: • Recent controversies surrounding internships • The importance of internships • Characteristics of a good internship program • How to create an internship program • Current problems and possible solutions • An analysis of “internships gone bad” • How to turn an internship into full-time employment • How to turn interns into full-time employees - 15 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleABOUT THE AUTHOR Heather R. Huhman, founder & president of Come Recommended, has nearly a decade of public relations and marketing experience, specializing in media relations, content marketing, and social media. She is also a well- recognized career expert, an experienced hiring manager, and someone who has been in nearly every employment- related situation imaginable. Heather knows and understands the needs of today’s employers and internship and entry-level job seekers. Her expertise in this area led to her selection as a contributor to Business Insider, Campus Calm, CAREEREALISM, Career Rocketeer, Examiner.com, GenJuice, Glassdoor, HRCommunicator, Intern Advocate, Personal Branding Blog, Talent Culture,USNews.com, Wall Street Journal, and Yahoo!.Additionally, she is the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career fromClassroom to Cubicle (2010) and the e-books Attention Job Seekers: Your Search is at Stake!9 Steps to Becoming an Expert Marketer & Getting Hired in Today’s Digital World (2011), 10Years, 12 Jobs, 3 Careers: Lessons Learned from Taking My Career from Classroom to Cubicle toPenthouse (2010), Relocating for an Entry-Level Job: Why You Probably Have to & How to DoIt (2010), Graduated, Unemployed & Un(der)insured: Why You Need to Stop What You’reDoing Right Now to Purchase Health Insurance and How to Pick the Provider & Plan Best forYou (2010), and Gen Y Meets the Workforce: Launching Your Career During EconomicUncertainty (2008).Heather has a master’s certificate in Internet marketing from the University of SanFrancisco and a B.A. in communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia.She resides in the Washington, DC area with her husband, dog and two cats. She isavailable to answer your questions (heather@heatherhuhman.com) or speak at yournext event. - 80 -
  • Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to CubicleOTHER HAPPY ABOUT® BOOKSPurchase these books at Happy About http://happyabout.com or at other onlineand physical bookstores. #ENTRYLEVELtweet Book 01 In 140 tweet-style tips, learn how to impress hiring managers, create stand- out “career tools,” and network during your job search. Paperback: $19.95 eBook: $14.95 #JOBSEARCHtweet Book01 This book provides job seekers and career advisors proven strategies for job search success in today’s competitive job market. Paperback: $19.95 eBook: $14.95 Happy About the Career Alphabet Over eight hundred career-management, personal-branding, résumé-writing, interviewing, and job-search tips, based on twenty-five years of career consulting, counseling, and coaching experiences. Paperback: $19.95 eBook: $14.95 - 81 -