Thoughts On Internships

Like many people in today’s economy, I’m currently unemployed. Not for lack of skills, talent, or initiative, and there’s no one to blame for my current state (besides perhaps myself, but I won’t venture down that path).

My career path has been wobbly, and you could say that I’m trying to change careers now, but I don’t think I actually had one before–just jobs. A job is part of a career, but a career is not only a job. And here at the beginning of mine, I face a difficult start.

Arruda and Dixson say in their book Career Distinction that a career is not a ladder, each promotion a new rung, but a career is a ramp that you must constantly be climbing. Right now, that ramp is sitting on top of a sheer cliff.

At the ALA conference in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to speak with the Associate Dean and Head of Recruitment at the University of Florida Libraries, where I would love to work. He recommended that I pursue internships there to get started, especially since I have no current library experience.

And that’s the cliff I’m staring at: experience. In the library field it seems especially rough (though I’m sure other people would say their fields are just as difficult) because many people go back to school for their master’s degree after they’ve been working in a library for a while and decide that they’d like to move up in the ranks. I got a job doing web development after I finished my bachelor’s, and then decided that a library science degree would be a good next step. I continued to work full-time while I was in school, so by the time I graduated, I didn’t have any library experience to back up my degree, and I was competing with lots of people who did.

I didn’t have the time for internships while I was in school, and the necessity of work experience in a library wasn’t emphasized in my program. I think that in programs like Information and Library Studies, internships should be mandatory (with the ability to substitute current or past work experience). It would have been a bother at the time to give up a decent wage at my job to get my interning hours, but it would have been worth so much to me in my current jobless situation.

And of course it is all about wages. I believe that people should always be paid for their work. I have always been opposed to unpaid internships because it devalues the intern. If someone is getting paid to do a job, their supervisors will spend time making sure that the employee gets the training and attention they need to do the job correctly, so their money isn’t wasted. If someone isn’t getting paid, the quality of their work becomes less relevant, the intern feels less important, and the endeavor is less productive for everyone.

You might make out unpaid internships to be the apprenticeships of the modern day, but they’re not alike at all. In the Middle Ages, apprentices were not paid, but they lived with the person they were studying under. Their lodging, food, and other necessities were provided. If a librarian offered to house and feed me while I was an intern at the library, it would no longer be an unpaid internship. (Any librarians out there interested? I’m a decent cook!)

I don’t think student internships are quite the same. If you are still in school, internships often are for academic credit, which works as a form of payment. If the student has scholarships or would otherwise not have to be employed full-time to support themselves while they’re in school, the internship counts as study rather than work. When people have to support themselves, having an unpaid job is difficult at best and often impossible. I am lucky to have a boyfriend, parents, and some meager freelance-able skills to help support me if I take an unpaid internship. But it will still be difficult.

Standing here looking up at the cliff that my career is resting on, I’m still inclined to accept an unpaid position. And that is why unpaid internships are still able to exist, despite everyone’s right to be paid for their work. The transition into a professional career is so steep that it’s often the only option.

Join the Conversation

363 Comments

  1. My wife and i have been excited Jordan could do his inquiry through the entire ideas he discovered through your web page. It is now and again perplexing just to be releasing tips that some people may have been making money from. And we all already know we have the blog owner to appreciate for that. The illustrations you have made, the straightforward web site navigation, the friendships you can assist to foster – it is many overwhelming, and it is assisting our son in addition to the family do think the subject is enjoyable, which is wonderfully fundamental. Many thanks for all!

  2. My spouse and i got really cheerful Emmanuel could conclude his analysis while using the ideas he received in your site. It is now and again perplexing to just find yourself freely giving things that the others might have been trying to sell. We discover we have got the writer to give thanks to for this. The explanations you made, the straightforward blog menu, the relationships you assist to instill – it’s got many remarkable, and it is helping our son in addition to the family know that that subject matter is thrilling, and that’s really essential. Thanks for all!

  3. Thanks for your entire labor on this blog. Kate take interest in working on research and it is easy to understand why. My spouse and i notice all relating to the lively form you create useful tips and hints on the web site and as well as recommend contribution from visitors about this concern plus our daughter is certainly being taught a whole lot. Have fun with the rest of the year. You are always conducting a stunning job.

  4. I want to express my appreciation to you just for rescuing me from this predicament. Just after surfing throughout the world wide web and coming across strategies that were not pleasant, I assumed my entire life was done. Existing without the presence of approaches to the problems you’ve resolved by means of this review is a crucial case, and the ones which might have in a negative way affected my career if I hadn’t noticed your web site. Your actual expertise and kindness in handling almost everything was very useful. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a step like this. I am able to at this point look forward to my future. Thanks a lot so much for this specialized and result oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to endorse your web page to any individual who should have recommendations on this topic.

  5. I truly wanted to compose a quick comment to be able to express gratitude to you for the awesome facts you are writing on this site. My extensive internet lookup has finally been rewarded with professional content to go over with my friends. I would assume that we visitors are definitely lucky to dwell in a great place with many special professionals with beneficial basics. I feel very blessed to have come across the webpage and look forward to really more amazing times reading here. Thank you once again for all the details.

  6. A lot of thanks for all your valuable effort on this web page. Debby really likes managing investigation and it’s really easy to see why. A lot of people hear all concerning the lively manner you make great tricks through this blog and as well as cause response from other people on the area of interest then our own simple princess is without a doubt becoming educated a lot of things. Take pleasure in the rest of the new year. You’re performing a wonderful job.

  7. I really wanted to type a note to say thanks to you for these stunning guides you are giving at this website. My rather long internet investigation has at the end been paid with good strategies to share with my family members. I would believe that most of us website visitors actually are unquestionably endowed to live in a fabulous network with so many lovely people with good tactics. I feel really privileged to have encountered your entire site and look forward to some more awesome minutes reading here. Thanks again for everything.

  8. I precisely needed to appreciate you once again. I am not sure what I might have accomplished in the absence of the actual basics revealed by you over that field. It had become a very frightening issue in my circumstances, nevertheless observing the well-written fashion you processed that forced me to cry with contentment. I am just grateful for the support and even sincerely hope you are aware of an amazing job your are undertaking instructing the mediocre ones through a site. Probably you’ve never come across all of us.

  9. I intended to post you this tiny remark to finally say thank you once again for your beautiful tips you’ve featured on this website. This has been strangely open-handed with people like you giving freely all that a lot of people would have offered for sale for an e-book to generate some money for their own end, primarily seeing that you could have done it in the event you desired. The solutions in addition acted to become good way to recognize that the rest have similar desire just as my own to grasp a lot more with regards to this problem. Certainly there are many more pleasant moments up front for many who browse through your blog post.

  10. I in addition to my friends have already been going through the nice advice located on your web page and all of the sudden developed a terrible suspicion I never thanked the web blog owner for those secrets. My people happened to be stimulated to read through all of them and already have extremely been taking pleasure in them. I appreciate you for turning out to be very kind and also for figuring out this kind of awesome areas millions of individuals are really eager to be aware of. Our own sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *