Intern vs. Entry-Level
So what’s the deal with internships anyways? After the recent presidential debate with so much of the focus being about finding jobs for people during such poor economic times, I couldn’t help but wonder about a solution to this problem.
On the flip side, I just graduated from college and have officially entered the job market– so I do have a special interest in the issue.
In a conversation I had a few weeks ago regarding the job searching process, the young woman I was speaking with who is now in her mid thirties, described how things were for her when she graduated from college. She explained that she could have basically had any job that she wanted by simply making a title for herself within a company that she wanted to work with– that’s how many openings there were. With a dynamic personality and a strong résumé, paid work was easy to find.
So where is all that work now? Where are the entry-level positions that existed in abundance when our parents were entering the job market, or really, when our oldest siblings were where we are now?
Last week I received the complete tour of the Folkways Archives and the Folklife office from the official archivist, Jeff Place. It was a very interesting and informative tour, and it only more so affirmed the reasons that made me want to be a part of this branch of the Smithsonian in the first place. I’m currently working as an unpaid intern, just one of about twenty-five this fall. However, in our tour, Mr. Place mentioned that during the [Folk] Festival Season, April through August, interns are a dime a dozen. They sit on the floors, cover the couches, nestle into corners, and all are unpaid. While it’s really neat how so many people have the opportunity to be involved with such an incredible organization, I couldn’t help but think- wow, that’s a lot of free labor.
Basically, the Folk Festival, or in general any daily, semi-skilled activity that it takes to run a solid business or non-profit, could not be successful without the work that its unpaid interns are doing.
So what would happen if there were no interns? My guess is that businesses would have to actually hire and pay people to do the work, though possibly not incredibly skilled work, nonetheless work that it takes to run a company.
I’m not 100% sure, but if I had to guess, that’s probably what a lot of entry-level jobs used to be.
While these are just my opinions, there is definitely some dialogue about how out of hand the roles of interns have gotten. Check out these articles from the Guardian and the New York Times and see what others are saying about the topic. What do you think?
Image from http://www.hercampus.com/school/emerson/internships-and-college-credit-saga-coffee-slaves