The Scary Truth Behind “Convenience” Internships
Just the other day, I was coaching a client of mine and we started discussing his future. He was a new college senior with a long-term goal to make it in the marketing world, and his grand master plan was take an internship with an insurance company without a marketing department simply because his cousin worked there and he had an in–nothing like some good networking…
Hmmmm…that sounds reasonable, or does it?
Convenience, a steady paycheck, and a simple solution doesn’t equal a wise career move. It all goes back to hiring psychology, which is basically the basis of our newsletter and my upcoming book. The world as we know it is based on social interaction, therefore, everything goes back to psychology.
Here’s hiring psychology in a nutshell. Most managers out there are going to look at “your story” as the main consideration when hiring you. This is whey we worry so much when we have gaps and inconsistencies in our resume, because on a basic level we realize the person reviewing the resume is imagining us living in a trailer somewhere in Oklahoma with an overage prostitute and a mangy chihuahua. Best years of my life, by the way.
I pointed out to my client the story he was currently writing:
“The applicant was gaining fantastic marketing experience from a rising start-up company, but then he suddenly changed course, opting to go work for a larger corporate force that had nothing to do with his marketing aspirations whatsoever. Why? For completely irrelevant experience.” Yeah, that makes sense.
“So basically, the applicant jumped from marketing over to insurance and now wants to go to marketing again. The applicant cannot make up his damned mind and is probably going to ditch out on us after he gets bored again, so we’ll have the pleasure of going through this whole lovely process in a couple months. You’re the weakest link… goodbye.”
Sure, going in there and telling them how marketing is the breading that stuffs your turkey sounds great and all, and they see you’ve got your persuasion down, but the paper record in their hand might as well be an engraving on a marble tablet. Your word is better than nothing, but then nothing isn’t a whole lot, is it?
Look at the alternative story:
“The applicant worked hard for a rising startup, gaining valuable marketing experience and then used that experience as leverage to transition to a position with a larger corporate force. While the change took away some responsibility, this is often the case with large corporations, and he continued to expand his marketing experience in a new environment.
Whoa! Now we’re talking. A Generation Me’er who can keep his story straight! Compared to all those other guys who came in here begin for a job the last week, those typical applicants who jumped around from five different industries before making a choice, this guy is looking pretty damn good. Break out the beer bong, Danny, we just might have a newbie on our hands.”
What you have done is separated yourself as an obvious choice, and isn’t that a sound way to get a job?
But we didn’t stop there. My client was starting to pick up on the psychology of hiring. It wasn’t really something he had put a whole lot of thought into before, but now it was sinking in that an internship of convenience was possibly not the best way to write his career story.
That’s when he dropped the clincher: he was thinking about heading overseas to spend a year in Paris teaching English, which makes sense because just out of College is a sweet time to go “sow your royal oats” around the world.
Hey, I’m a big believer in living your dreams, and I think every person, especially Americans, could do with an international perspective (and some French women, to boot). “So why not do it?” I asked.
His answer: He didn’t want to come back to unemployment.
Hold that thought. While that seems reasonable, there’s more to this problem than meets the eye. “Why teaching English?”
Because it’s easy.
Yeah, sure teaching English is easy compared to a lot of things, but when it comes down to it, the decision to teach English was the number one reason he had this fear of coming back to nothing. And he was right. Unless he had some rich uncle sitting there holding out a golden ticket when he stepped off the plane (самолеты), his traveling dream was going to be a huge sidestep for his career.
Fortunately it didn’t have to be. Here’s a concept most wannabe world travelers just don’t get “international experience doesn’t have to mean being a bum. There are other ways to taste the worlds flavors. That’s when I suggested the idea of using a trip to Paris to expand his marketing experience” on an international playing field. Now we’re talking credentials.
Long story short, the insurance company idea was flushed down the drain along with the shit it would have taken on his resume. My client had seen the light.
So what can all you other college seniors get from this anecdote?
Number one, before you start walking, figure out where the hell you want to go. You could tread pavement all day and walk laps around the country, but will you ever get anywhere? Number two, in this guy’s case, leaving the country for a year was no longer that irresponsible decision parents love to give flak for. Rather, it was a potential to add value to his resume without deviating much from the plan if he were to simply stay in Chicago and work the corporate basements.
That convenient internship was nothing but a point of possible resume friction standing between him and a great job. By keeping his “story” on track, he was more likely to keep the reader interested and get that happy ending after all.
Fortunately, this talk occurred early on in his senior year, and unlike most college seniors, my client can start planning for success early, using a newfound awareness to set out a life path that makes sense to any hiring manager. With the solid credentials he is currently building, this guy will have a pretty good shot at finding a place in just about any marketing firm. This is the difference between good planning and convenience internships.
What we really need to take from the situation is this: interviews begin long, long before you sit down in that chair and start trying not to look at your future boss’s cleavage. It begins long before you even start typing up a resume. Your drawing the outline for your resume right now, with every decision you make.
Start thinking about this and making the choices that look good on paper, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your other dreams. This is imperative if you want good money, a fulfilling life, and a career you can fell passionate about.
The alternative is going with the other 80% of college grads this year: move back in with mommy and daddy and say goodbye to free sex.
To learn more about positive career planning and psychological interviewing techniques, sing up for my newsletter or order my book, “The Unspoken Rules of Getting Hired: Recession-Proof Secrets That Employers DO NOT Want You to Know.“
An understanding of psychology is the missing link in traditional career development, and inadvertently to making your dreams come true.