The role of internships

Have you ever considered why you chase after an internship? Is it simply for resume building, or are you really trying to get some experience? I can’t honestly say myself why I choose to chase after them so deliberately other than the fact that everyone else is doing it. Why can’t we just apply for jobs after graduation? I sometimes think that it’s a little absurd that the forces of corporate America make students feel like they have to accumulate an unprecedented amount of experience before entering the working world. The majority of us are not veteran entrepreneurs who have started million dollar companies in high school, but it seems like the top industries are searching for people just like that. This is not to discredit those who do, for they are bright individuals with true grit and deserve recognition, but it seems backwards to hold everyone to the standard of these “elite.”

There is another perspective to take, however. I spent some time last summer researching entrepreneurial ventures for a firm I was interning at (forgive my hypocrisy) and found several examples of younger kids, some younger than myself, who formed successful start-up companies. In fact I found way more than I anticipated, but while some were definitely intellectual maniacs, most were average college students with their own missions. What I began to realize is that this is an emerging class of millennials who understand that the jobs that were once in abundance for college-going youth simply aren’t there anymore, so they’ve adapted. Instead of competing for highly contested internships and jobs, they create jobs for themselves by starting companies that serve very specific niches in society that larger corporations have neglected.

I suppose this is all very obvious, but what I think people may forget is that these entrepreneurs are not just solving business problems with their innovation, they’re (maybe) solving the employment problem for millennials. Any thoughts?

2 thoughts to “The role of internships”

  1. Miles, this is a thought that’s been on my mind too. In fact, thinking about the stress of trying to get an internship and preparing my resume is what led me on the path I took with my Re-Purposed and Remediation project. It seems as though students, especially at the U of M, spend so much time preparing for the work world that its easy to forget what college is all about anyway – learning.

    I agree entrepreneurship and emerging industries are starting to dominate the job world. In fact, I would say a reason they are so attractive is because a large percentage of them reject corporate culture and promote more creative values and ideals. I’m happy to be working with a startup this summer, and think trying my hand at something creative and less corporate will be not only exciting, but maybe even more valuable than a traditional internship. I certainly agree that entrepreneurs are creating new jobs and helping people to find work. Especially in places like Detroit, entrepreneurship is exploding partly due to low costs and a great opportunity to bring new industries to the city. I think theres a bright future ahead for students frustrated with corporate culture and the same sort of issues you mentioned in your first paragraph.

  2. Miles, your free-spirited Ann Arbor roots are showing. Jokes aside, you bring up a good point, there seems to be considerable pressure (at least at Ross and among my friends) to attain internships immediately. This can be especially troubling when you look at great world leaders today, and realize almost none of them were doing work related to their field during their time in college.

    If I may ask, why do you think there’s been a recent push to intern places? Is it by the corporations, or is it an increasingly intelligent society pushing each other by interning or not getting hired? My hunch from networking (possibly worthy of another blog post itself) with business people is that this is something students are doing in large part to each other. Many employers still see hourly-wage jobs such as waiting tables as valuable work experience, and now recognize it as an added human element. So while I also am taking on two internships this summer, I was extra careful in the recruiting process to make sure that any job I considered had legitimate value added to my life as a whole, not just my career. I may regret it next year, but for now, I think it’s important to do research on jobs, and recognize that there are plenty of years to climb the career ladder, but not nearly as many summer vacations.

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