I miss the days when you could intern. Like, really miss it.
Today, while driving to work, I was listening to a local morning show on the radio… and this intern was on the show for about 10 minutes cracking jokes with the local celebrities on air . Remember those days? When you had your dream job, but you just didn’t get paid for it? Now, twenty somethings with an interest in radio would do anything to get on air… If they’re lucky they may score a semi-cool job in some random city… or they might get offered to do the night shift on some mediocre radio station in a big city. So while many twenty somethings with bachelors degrees are working jobs that they could really care less about and are constantly scanning the internet for any sign of a job they might enjoy just a little — this intern is getting to show his comedic talents on a top notch morning radio show in a big city. Little does he know, it may be years until that happens again.
We all know there are many more internships than there are jobs right now, so you most likely aren’t doing exactly what you want yet. But when you could intern, you were able to apply for positions that seemed exciting and/or glamorous. And instead of being the lowest of the low, you got passed around the company doing bitch work for sometimes very important people. And there was pretty much NO stress. When I interned at a very popular entertainment news show, I met the executive producer and chatted with her – so she knew exactly who I was… but those entry-level production assistants never even got to speak to her. So she knew an unpaid intern by name, rather than the people who were actually getting paid to do legitimate work for her show.
But you can’t be an intern anymore. No way. You need a “real job.” When I graduated, I had already completed four internships (pretty good ones, too) and I was almost certain I wouldn’t have to dive back into the pool of unpaid undergraduates… but instead I entered the world of unpaid graduates with bachelor degrees. I couldn’t get a job at the places I wanted, so I was forced to intern at places that would hopefully hire me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even intern at my most desired places of work — those are the top notch internships that you have to pay for.
You would think, when someone is offering to do your work for free, you would hire them and just sit back, relax, and maybe spend half your day at the beach or something. But no… some places make you pay to intern. Those are my favorites. I absolutely loved one of my internships and I wanted to work there again (for free). I didn’t care about the money – I didn’t care about the prospective job that may come after it (okay, may I did just a little), but I wanted to continue doing the work I was doing. I got the okay from my supervisor, but then found out my parents would have to pay for credits. Haha. The only response to that was “yeah right, get a paying job.” Ugh, “but all the paying jobs suck,” I thought. And this was while I was still in college. Young me knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to make in the real world.
I was embarrassed to still be interning when I graduated. But now that I’m working, I sometimes wish I could go back to those days and apply for the job of my dreams – even though it’s unpaid… and an internship. I’ve never seen job listings for the jobs I want the most that don’t require years of experience. But I’ve seen internships. And four years isn’t enough time to intern at a ton of places and make a ton of connections. Because when you’re in college, all you care about is drinking and not emailing those business people you were told to keep in touch with… And when you graduate all you care about is drinking and regretting that you didn’t email those business people.
So maybe all the paying jobs don’t suck… but unless you have a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who knows someone, they will most likely suck. BUT what you have to do is suck it up and eventually work your way into the job you want. You have to save money to get to the place you want to be. It isn’t easy, but sometimes you have to sacrifice your own happiness.
In reality, people would be much happier doing something they actually enjoy. So if money wasn’t an issue we could all be unpaid interns forever… once we get sick of a company, we could leave and go on to the next. Or we could just stay at a place we love forever conversing with important people, not having to worry about money. And if we could stay in college forever, we would have no debt and our parents would be shelling us out money to work for free. I like the sound of that. (Free clothes and shoes!)
But for now, I will continue to work at my entry-level job, dreaming about the job I wish to get in the future. But I will always hold a place in my heart for interning. I mean – look at me. I spend the majority of my free time writing a blog that I get no money for… and writing entertainment news articles that receive maybe a dollar or two each (if I’m lucky). And I spend almost all of the extreme lack of money I get on clothes and alcohol… and soon – RENT. I guess I just love doing unpaid work and spending all my money! Wait no, I just love doing what I love. And you should too! So, whether you’re a job searching twenty something or an entry-level working twenty something (wanting to be somewhere else), you WILL get there soon. Promise!