The Poverty of University Internships

The last thing on a students mind at graduation should be "OK, now what?" But many graduate programs are filled with people failed by their undergraduate education. I don't mean they didn't pass, I mean they weren't given the tools they need for success. Not having the necessary tools they enrolled in graduate school.

College rarely prepares you for success. It prepares you to follow a manual. It prepares you to conform. It prepares you to become a gatekeeper. But it doesn't prepare you for success.

"Do what you love. You'll be better at it." -Francis Ford Coppola

I think the internship was developed to fill this discrepancy. Some administrator thought a single semester-long internship was sufficient for students to decide if they liked a line of work. Wouldn't it be better if there were 3 or 5 or 20 internships during college? Wouldn't it be better if a student had many different jobs and therefore many opportunities do learn what they like?

I'm sure I'll get an email from someone describing the impracticality of this but to that I say—horseshit. If college doesn't prepare you for post-graduate success, why go?

To that end, I propose multiple 1-week or 2-week "internships." Maybe we could call them "test-a-job." What happens when you start your semester-long internship only to realize the second week, this job isn't for you. You're stuck for another six weeks of drudgery. No university on the planet will help you with this but my suggestion is to arrange many vocational experiences during your undergrad years. Don't be concerned with whether you'll get credit on your transcript, you'll get experience and that is more important.

Every summer break there's the opportunity for three or four vocational experiences. Semester breaks are usually two weeks—one more experience. Christmas break—another experience.

So now you walk into an interview with a portfolio of your experiences. The hiring manager asks why you should get the position over the other candidates. You respond by telling him you've tried many things and you know what you want. You're not here to gain some experience and leave for better opportunities. How many other graduates can say this? That's very powerful in the ears of a hiring manager.