Now that some internships are up for bid, future employers will wonder if you earned it, or if you just used personal connections—clearly not discounting an ample connection with the bank. In a previous article we explored the unpaid versus paid controversy running rampant across the intern-nation, but this follow up looks at the experience (not) gained from spending a summer, semester, or year in this position.
While the internships available for bidding are more of a charity incentive for the companies involved, rather than a true acknowledgement of ability, they do shed light on a strange paradox: as students are told internships are more necessary for professional success, they become less valued by employers because there are too many of them these days. As well-qualified and deserving students, it can be difficult to watch someone less talented receive an internship based purely on money or networking. Has finding an internship become nothing more than commodification of the labor force: a game of chance, of luck, of connections?
Instead of bringing the classroom to the new working environment, interns focus on blending in and not embarrassing themselves, rather than gaining as much relevant information and experience as they can. A lot of times, this experience comes from mistakes—when you’re too afraid to make them, how much are you learning? Internships feel more like an entry-level job, doing administrative tasks, and wearing uncomfortable shoes and blouses that you didn’t necessarily have to travel hundreds of miles to do.
They do not even pack that much on to the resume. When potential employers review your application, a part-time summer internship equals about a month and a half of experience. Your work-study job for the past three years can be worth more consideration in most situations, even if it has nothing to do with your preferred professional field.
Obviously, there are internships that are worth it—with your dream company, working under someone with your ultimate, dream job. But, a lot of internships that students accept and apply for pale in comparison. Instead of taking an internship just to have one on your resume, consider if it will benefit you professionally.
Why should we, students, separate internships from the classroom? We should learn every aspect of the career we’re interested in to make sure that is the path we want to take, isn’t that the purpose of an internship in the first place?