I’m here to set the record straight about the Millennial work ethic, by giving you a little insight into the world of internships. They have become the popular alternative to entry-level positions, and businesses have convinced my generation that this is an acceptable way to start a career. If you don’t continue on to graduate school (hoping that the job market will open up when you get that Masters), many of us find ourselves in a job black hole where we can’t practice what we’ve learned, and at the very least, pay back our student loans on time (the average in 2011 was $26k). And all this plays out with collateral damage in terms of Next Gen’s loyalty to employers and desire to build a long-term career with one company. Remember, we are risk averse, want financial stability and a future worth working for.
What’s really happening here? All businesses today, from top corporate hedge funds to design firms to retail stores to your neighborhood nonprofit, rely on interns. And let’s face it, you can get just as much out of an intern as you can from entry-level staffers — right? So why not give some deserving under-employed college grad the chance to beef up their resume, right? You’re really helping alleviate the famed Millennial unemployment rate (now 13%), right? What kind of 20-something really needs job security or healthcare, right?
Wrong. When was the last time you were asked to work for free? In your day, did proud college graduates look forward to a summer internship that, at best, paid minimum wage? Too many college grad Millennials accept internship “positions,” because it’s the only real job on the horizon. They live in areas that are far cries from their middle class upbringings, and they pay through the teeth to do so. And what’s worse is that a lot of us are called entitled or pushy for wanting healthcare and a salaried position. Such are the realities of your college grad interns.
We know there’s still an economic crunch. We know there are fewer jobs for us to fill, and most employees are doing the jobs of two or three people. But other industries can take a page from the tech and financial companies that are getting it right. Facebook, for example, reportedly pays interns a hefty salary of $60,000. Smart organizations like Facebook are using interns as a recruiting tool. They understand that wrangling smart Millennials as paid interns ensures them a future with a talent pool that can be trained and mentored into the next generation of company loyalists. In essence, these enlightened companies are implementing a proactive strategy by paying interns.
The truth is that your interns are members of one of the the most hardworking generations in modern history. We want the same opportunity you had. Why not everyone follow Facebook’s lead and use internships as recruiting tool strategy to get top talent? And pay these workers a fair salary. Or, only accept student interns, not college grads. You’ll get good results out of young, hard-working employees. It’s time to give us more than just an internship.