The Intern


Diversity. Miami Dade College. Photo credit: SHC/2014

Recently, I met a young woman who shared her harrowing experience of trying to land a job post university. At the point of tears, she was growing more and more disillusioned about what it takes to get a job. All her life she was told that changing her circumstance of poverty, she would have to dedicate her young adult years to earning a degree, which would be her ticket to economic freedom. She buckled down to her studies, putting in the time, gaining the strong academic credentials, the coveted GPA (Grade Point Average). She was an active member of her University’s debate team and boasted an excellent athletic profile.

Now 23 years old, with a  degree in Sociology, her pathway to a fulfilling career has been littered with rejection letters. In some cases, after being shortlisted, no further communication followed. Dejected, frustrated and in debt, this promising young lady’s confidence takes a nose-dive.

It is very seductive to fall into a state of helplessness. Our desires and dreams charm the best of us. Then reality hits and we suddenly come face to face with life’s harsh realities. But for every failed endeavor, there lies an opportunity to learn from the mistakes and improve the our game. It will take practiced patience to review and reflect on what may be the hindrance in reaching the goal. Hard as it is to review and critique our handling of events and interactions, it is important to addressing our developmental needs.

It is seductive as well to blame the system for not providing the opportunity to grow. In many instances that may be true. Systemic challenges do influence outcomes and this is where you will need to find out more about the enterprise of choice. What is there reputation like? Is there a high turnover? Is the organization’s culture one that promotes or retards excellence? Research, research and research!

In the short term, this young lady will have to re-access her goals. A growth map can help her visualize what she holds in her head. She will need to list the industries that will find her particular area of study useful. Creating this list will help her focus her efforts on mapping her experience with their needs.

She will need to focus on her resume. Speak to the needs of the organization. Cite all relevant experiences. Packing the resume with non-essential data, will distract from pertinent information that would otherwise have opened the door for an interview.

It is a competitive world. You want to position yourself as the best fit. But you may have to back pedal a bit and opt for being an unpaid intern. I advocate this measure as a short-term commitment because it provides a real opportunity to be visible. Your skill sets will be sharply improved. Yes, there are companies that are unethical in their recruitment of interns. This is where your research will come into play.

Your aim as an intern is to grow your skill sets and to add value to your professional journey. It is a partnership and although you may not be earning a salary in the short-term, there is an immense opportunity to improve your professional worth.

© Suzette Henry-Campbell 2014





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