Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I had a reader send me this and while this young lady and myself would probably loathe one another on most other political issues, in intellectual honesty, I do have to side with her on account that after interning myself THREE TIMES during college, none of them were anything but data entry and filing.

Additionally, since I have a readership that is compiled of younger readers and occasionally I am asked about education, college, "what major to major in," etc., permit me to save you youth some time regarding internships.

Internships depend on the field you're in. Accounting, engineering, sciences, STEM, vocational trades, etc., where even just a year or two of education can result in a skill or a trade that is valuable to an employer is worth it. You'll probably get paid AND (more importantly) get experience.

However, when it comes to the social sciences ESPECIALLY LAW AND "BUSINESS" prepare to just simply waste your time. You will do data entry, reconcile databases, and other stuff people don't care to do while euphemistically being called an "internship." Finance and investing in particular will just make you cold call, fax and be a glorified secretary.

This becomes a problem if (like when I was in college) you have to work for a living and pay for college, rent, living expenses yourself. You simply can't afford to intern if you lose the income at your day (or I guess, "night" job). Ergo, the Ole Captain's advice is this;

Intern only during summer and take on multiple interns. Treat them like dates. At the first sign of trouble ("Oh, there's been a change of plans. We're not ready to start your internship, can you scan in these files for us in the meantime?") you bail on the internship. You won't be learning anything you couldn't have done when you were in the 6th grade. Besides which you have other part time internships scheduled. As more and more internships turn out to be indentured servitude, just leave. Don't even give them a notice or finish the day. Leave.

Hopefully you will find an internship that DOES pay AND gives you experience. HOwever, keep in mind you still have to put food on the table and for the most part (no matter how unfair this is) in the real world employers abuse interns. You simply don't have to tolerate the abuse.


PeppermintPanda said...

To be rude, I suspect that the amount you get paid as an intern should be a sign of how much value your degree really has. In Computer Science and Engineering (when I was in school) it wasn’t uncommon for interns to earn $35,000 to $45,000 after 2 or 3 years of school. If the amount of money people are willing to pay you is $0 after you have a bachelor’s degree and are working on a masters degree I would suggest that your expensive education was (essentially) valueless.

With that said, all employment should be a (more or less) fair trade between employer and employee; and if the employee is doing (effectively) work that you would pay a $10 to $20 an hour to hire someone to do, and they’re doing it for free, they should be receiving education which is worth that much for their effort.

Pete Collins said...

A very sad story. Just another example of a young person making questionable career choices. An MA in Maternal and Child Health / Master of Public Health (2007-2009).
Currently enrolled in a PhD program, presumably in the same field?
What does she think that will accomplish? Her only hope now is a teaching position with a liberal arts college.
Regrettably, she could have been an MD by now.

Captain Capitalism said...

Now now now!!! Mr Collins!

Do you not know to be polite and not speak of the harsh truths of the labor market for this young lady???

I mean, come now. I mean, I know it's truth, but you must understand in today's America we ignore the truth so people's feelings do not get hurt.

Now apologize to the nice lady and tell he she's going to make a world of difference...uh...doing it is..uff....whatever it is...those...um..."majors" do...uhh....for society.

Anonymous said...

My first "internship" was student teaching the senior year of my undergrad degree - that was actually useful and practical, and I learned a lot - unfortunately I didn't learn to avoid teaching entirely.

It is amazing how many people earn teacher certification in college, then leave the field in five years or less.

When I went to grad school, I had an assistantship - I first helped tutor Calculus students, then I actually taught Introductory Algebra (which I think shouldn't even be offered at the college level), I worked the summer of computer assisted education project regarding basic operations research, then finally, my internship was with a tiny (1-man) software services company - I did some relatively simple business programming - I was paid the basic stipend of for graduate assistants, which was tuition plus $50 per month or something like that.

The company I work for uses paid internships of propective new hires, the idea being if they do well in their internship, they'll get hired on when they graduate.

What I don't get is people that get bachelor's degree, then go directly onto a master's and in some cases go on to doctorates consecutively without any work experience between the degrees. So any prospective employer considers them "high risk" hires because their degrees drive up the cost, but there's no track record of ability to do the job.

BTW, the babe's earrings still drive me crazy.

Captain Capitalism said...

Crazy in a good way, or crazy in a bad way. Because, being honest here, she's got this kind of hottie "Progressive Flo Insurance" thing going on.

amcz said...

If you watch that woman's first video, you'll notice a couple of assets she could exploit for some cash.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the Captain here, the earrings work with her sexy but innocent leftwing knowitallness

geoih said...

She seems to be doing pretty well for herself (love those hub cap ear rings). I wonder how much of her own money she's been giving to all of her poor friends who've "had" to take unpaid internships.

Captain Capitalism said...

Just watched the first video and you're right. Well I didn't watch the video. Matter of fact I literally couldn't tell you what it was about. But I did visually see the first video.