College Intern’s Lament

Megan My youngest daughter, Megan, is on the Huffington Post again with a college student’s lament about meaningless work for interns. Here’s a quote:

Is this a rite of passage or a waste of resources? Obviously I’m biased, I’m 20 and I want to have internships where I can do more than file. I have a suggestion for the bosses of college interns: give us a chance and I bet you’ll be surprised at what we can do. We may lack job-specific experience but we learn quickly.

Boring internships may be turning students off from entering the regular rat race. Instead, many students are looking to starting their own businesses. Our business idols are the founders of Napster and Google. We, perhaps unrealistically, want quick success not a long climb up a career ladder. An article by Donna Fenn calls this generation “the most entrepreneurial generation in our nation’s history” and The Intuit Future of Small Business Report predicts a rise in young people creating their own businesses.

Instead of politely waiting for our turn to be in charge years down the line, we’ve learned that you have to stand out to get what you want. If going down expected routes doesn’t produce results then we’ll just have to go our own way.

Oh-oh, she’s been doing the intern thing at Palo Alto Software. And she swears that her summer job is fun, that she’s just being sympathetic to friends. What do you think, should we believe her?

And, more seriously, notice the underlying idea that you can build your own job to improve job satisfaction. And maybe I think of that because of my own story (from an early post on this blog);

I left a good job at Creative Strategies and started on my own, not because of something I wanted to build, not because of creative vision, but rather, because I thought I could make enough money to keep my family whole and do what I wanted.  I wanted interesting work, and I wanted to choose my work. I wanted to actually do the writing and research, not supervise others. It was important to me that what I spend hours doing was something fun — I always found writing and planning and working numbers fun — even though I didn’t have the idea that this would create the empire. I was running away from boredom, not building castles.



  • Eric says:

    I think it'll be interesting when these younger interns realize that a lot of entrepreneurship _is_ boring work. Getting a business off the ground means time spent dealing with getting office space, filing, keeping track of mail, worrying about making payroll, and all sorts of other boring logistics. I've worked at several startups and have no desire to do my own, because while I'd love the freedom of setting my own schedule, I'm not willing to deal with all the other annoying parts of starting my own business.

    I'm also curious to figure out who they think should be doing the "boring" work at a company? The CEO? It has to get done and somebody has to do it – one way to impress your boss is to knock that stuff out, or figure out a way to automate it, so that nobody has to do it. Otherwise, your boss has to find somebody else to do it, so you're just making more work.

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