Intern Advice

This says "tassel is worth the 'hassel'"

The person who made this should reassess their expectations, for sure.

June is the month where hundreds upon thousands of impressionable young minds are forced from a convent of higher education into the cold, harsh reality of the real world, waiting patiently on that silver spoon they ordered four years earlier to show up on their doorsteps.

The other day my friend Stephanie from Stephanie in Suburbia wrote a blog about dreams, goals and expectations of kids coming out of college. She posed an interesting question:

As a parent, what do we do here? How do we manage expectations without raining on our precious child’s parade?

Growing up, I wanted for nothing, but I also didn’t get everything I wanted. My parents set reasonable expectations for me. For instance, if I wanted a toy, I could tell them over and over I wanted a toy, but I can’t remember many times when they just went and bought me a toy. I got nice things, but on special occasions.

My Dad worked really hard for our family. We watched him leave every morning, waving goodbye with the I Love You sign language sign. Although my Mom was a stay-at-home Mom, she volunteered quite a bit at school. And we knew she had a career before she was a Mom. We also heard stories of their craft store they opened and ran for a few years before I was born.

I went to college with the idea that people went to college to get a good job to get nice things. Honestly, looking back I’m not sure if I started school with an entitled attitude, but I think somewhere in the mix, maybe because of the professors whose job security depended on nurturing the attitude that school opens all sorts of doors, I started thinking that having a degree meant I could waltz right into a job.

I interned at a company and was so excited to hear they were hiring a full-timer for the job I had done all summer. I interviewed and was crushed to find they found someone with more experience.

See, that’s the key. It’s not education, it’s experience. Sometimes, a job is a job. Sometimes, getting a paycheck and solid work experience is more valuable than making sure you’re working in  your field. I’m of the mindset that the mark of an enterprising young person is that they can make McDonalds seem like it’s a job in their field if they get creative enough.

My first job was selling newspaper ads, a job anyone could do. Literally, anyone. They could have hired me the second I graduated high school and I would have fit the qualifications. I could have stayed out of the job market for another few months and found something else, but I knew that job was important to building experience.

There was once an intern in our office who said she was moving to Atlanta and was planning on working in PR. “Good luck with that,” I told her, “I had to work selling newspaper ads for a year after I graduated.”

“I? Would NEVER do that,” she sneered.

Every semester we bid adieu to another set of interns with an ice cream cake party. We go around the table and dish out our sage wisdom. Most of my coworkers tell them to follow their dreams and never settle. When the conversation gets to me, I have the exact opposite advice.

Sometimes you have to settle. Sometimes you aren’t in the place to take your dream job. Make the job you find your dream job, and the rest will fall into place. Most importantly, you’re not entitled to anything because you have a degree, so get it out of your head right now. You are NOT too good for a job just because you have a couple extra letters attached to the back of your name.

So in response to the question Stephanie poses, I’m going to raise Baby Blogworthy to know he can do anything he wants, but no one is going to hand it to him. He has to work for what he wants, and wanting something doesn’t’ mean you’ll get it right away. Just because life gives you a “yellow light” on your dreams doesn’t mean you have to give up — you might just have to wait. I don’t want entitled to ever be a part of his world, because none of us are entitled to anything.

Of course, this is easy because right now he’s a baby. I know it’s going to be harder to manage this, especially when those little eyes look up at me. But I know I want him to be appreciative of everything he has and realize how hard work can pay off.

I’d also like to award Stephanie with the MA in Inspiration from It’s Blogworthy University. Thanks for giving me some food for thought!

It's Blogworthy University MA in Inspiration

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28 comments to Intern Advice

  • Kids these days are born with a sense of entitlement – it’s scary! I have the same aspirations as you for Baby Blogworthy. Everything that is worth is, has to be earned. Nothing is just there for the taking.

    My first job? Selling ads also! Except it was for an online job recruitment company. It was so hard as the Internet then, isn’t like the Internet now. But I worked it as much as I could, and from there, went to a couple more jobs that were only so-so, but without them, would never have started working in events, which led me to PR, which led me to marketing, which was what I loved. So yes, sometimes, we have to settle. At least for a little while :)

    • Amanda

      Same thing happened with me! One job lead directly to the next job. And I had to have that awful job to appreciate when I have now! So you can have whatever you want, but don’t expect it to be easy!

  • KLZ
    Twitter:

    I have been telling my husband this lately. For serious.

  • I think it’s better for kids (or college age kids) to know that their first job is most likely not going to be amazing so that they are prepared for the real world. I am kind of settled to the fact that I might never have an amazing job that I truly love. But my job does allow me to have things that I enjoy which makes my life pretty good. I just think that kids need to be taught to have realistic goals as well as be encouraged to make the best of themselves. And yeah kids these days do have that insane sense of entitlement which I’m not really sure how to fix.

    • Amanda

      Exactly…sometimes the money you get from the job, allowing you to do fun things, can make up for it. There are lots of things besides your career that can be fulfilling.

  • I’m pretty much dealing with almost exactly the same situation right now. as we speak. The job I found out of college was a dream job on paper, but I’m finding out four years later that it’s not much better than selling newspapers. and doesn’t pay much better either.

    • Amanda

      Yup, that’s the other side of the coin…I know lots of college kids who want nothing more than to work at an advertising agency because they watch Mad Men, then realize that working 70 hours a week for next to nothing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Elena
    Twitter:

    I would love to attend It’s Blogworthy University! I couldn’t agree more…the entitlement thing drives me crazy. Also – your advice is good. We all unfortunately don’t always get our “dream” job and we can make it that if we want.

  • Are you available for a speaking tour? I think every college senior needs to read this & hear it.

    My husband graduated from a great school with an EE degree & took a job with a company NOT in the Engineering dept. But he was qualified & it was in the realm of his degree. Not even a year later, he was promoted & got the engineering job he really wanted. Sometimes it’s being in the right place in the right time.

    • Amanda

      I so agree! I worked at that newspaper job for a year and there I met my future boss, who owned a web design agency. I went from there to my job now, which I absolutely adore. So sometimes you just have to stick it out.

  • You are absolutely right. We have to work for what we want in life and experience is the key to getting a job. I had to start at the bottom in my jobs and then work my way to the top.

  • I love this post. As someone who never graduated college I will say that it is tricky either way. On one hand it is near impossible to get your foot in the door at some places if you don’t have a degree. Even with a ton of experience. But I do find most places look at work…any work…as a sign of commitment and character.
    I was just watching something the other day where someone gave a great quote, “If you are too big for a small job than you are too small for a big job.”
    I couldn’t agree more!
    (It also makes me feel better about working as a server this past year…)

    • Amanda

      What a great quote, and so true. You have to appreciate the job you have, and let’s be honest, in this economy, you have to appreciate that you HAVE a job.

  • This is so true. Kids want to pop out of college and make $100K a year. It’s just not going to happen. You do actually have to work to EARN money. They don’t just pass out diplomas and paychecks :)

    Way to keep it real sister!

    • Amanda

      Not going to happen! And it’s maddening when people keep perpetuating it. I think some people like to say “follow your dreams” just because they like the way it sounds.

  • This is ohhhh so true! I always thought I could do whatever I wanted and when I actually put my mind to something for the most part I got there. But I will say in my two degree programs, the teachers were almost brutally honest. Regardless, that both were considered one of the top 2 programs for the degrees I was getting I’d have to work my ass off to eventually find my dream job.

    • Amanda

      I’m glad your teachers were honest..more of them need to be! They prepare you to know everything about your subject, but nothing about how to get a job.

  • Love Stephanie. And love your advice. I’ve known people who get a job and think they are entitled to a raise 6 months later. For what?? For showing up? They don’t realize it takes work–you have to prove yourself.

    • Amanda

      Steph is the bee’s knees! And yes, you’re right…and funny you say that, because one of my coworkers’ standing advice statements is, “just show up”…as in be reliable but honestly, isn’t that given?

  • I totally nodded in agreement throughout this whole post. I remember working at my retail job and saying, “I can’t wait until I graduate and get a REAL job. Who was I kidding? My degree was in art. Like there are tons of people lining up to hire “an artist.” And unfortunately even though it was what I did my whole life, I didn’t have the drive and desire to actually make a career out of it.

    It’s ironic now that my husband, who never went to college, has the promising career and supports our family due to his knowledge, drive, and experience in computers and networking. But he’s still self conscious about his lack of education, and that keeps him from looking around for better pay/benefits.

  • I think this is a problem in the US in general. Too many people think they are “too good” to do certain jobs, and that mindset does nothing but get you into trouble.

  • Excellent points made here, Amanda.

    I love that you’re brave enough to give honest advice to your interns…

    You’re also smart. AND cute.

    (lucky baby blogworthy to have you for a mama.)

  • I was lucky because I went to school in the middle of a city and I was able to work in an accounting related field while I was in school. And I say accounting related because while I was technically a bookkeeper, a big part of my job was making coffee and filing and ordering lunch and straightening up the office when clients came in. But at least I got to pay my dues while I was still in school. Man, did I make a lot of coffee!

  • As a recent college grad, I completely agree with you. However, college is tough (if you’re actually working at it to get good grades and whatnot), and I am a bit annoyed that all that hard work doesn’t really get you anywhere in the real world job market. It’s frustrating.

    But I found a job. Not a great one, not a dream job, but it will be good for something later.
    Cassandra recently posted..Learning About Kids

    • Amanda

      Good for you! That’s the right attitude. I know it is hard, and it really sucks. My husband is paying off student loans and working at a place that pays almost nothing, and he has an MA. Life’s not fair…but you can at least get experience and some extra money this way! Your dream job will come.

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