Unpaid internships are often portrayed by the media as placing unfair barriers to entry in key industries. Since many can’t afford to work 40 hours a week for free, industries that require inter experience for entry-level positions are often denying the most capable applicants, or so the argument goes. Others also point out that these unpaid positions are unnecessarily exploitative, forcing interns to do the work of an entry level employee for free while promising the possibility of future paid employment, vast industry connections, and resume builders in front of desperate job seekers.
But the following diary entry written by Kelsey, an unpaid marketing intern at the start-up app creator InfaRed, proves all of these haters wrong. In one rather effusively written entry Kelsey counts the ways she loves unpaid work and proves that even if she may not be the right candidate for the job, she’s certainly a candidate for something.
April 5th, 2014
Another day dawns and it’s yet another chance to take the marketing world by storm! That’s right, after a year of searching, of following every job lead to a dead end, of awkward networking brunches and unanswered emails and I’ve finally landed what every 2013 college graduate dreams of: an unpaid internship!
It’s like all of my wildest dreams have come true. You wouldn’t imagine the opportunities I have. This is real work, real experience, real resume bullet points. I’m pretty sure some people even get paid to do what I do. That’s how legit this is. I even get to manage freelancers. Paid freelancers, too, not some desperate college students looking to work for free just for a byline. These are professional social media marketers carrying out MY plans.
I was so worried I wouldn’t get it. When I went in for the interview, I met another candidate, Daphne, in the reception area. And of course, by reception area, I mean the odd cluster of old couches, ping pong tables, and bean bag chairs that make up the front half of most startup offices. But, Daphne, she was just SO qualified. She had already worked for another startup all through college, helping out their marketing department part-time. She grew their social media following by 1000%. Or something like that? I’m pretty bad at numbers, but she had a handle on them. And she knew all of these industry buzzwords, like SEO and analytics and Facebook insights. The only Facebook insight I knew about was learning that Stacy Peterson got fat after high school but still wasn’t afraid to post a bikini pic as her profile picture.
But, yeah, Daphne was great. She was TOTALLY qualified. So it was crazy when they gave it to me. But I guess it was my naturally bubbly personality. Also, I think Daphne mentioned something about student loans and making rent. I don’t know. I don’t have student loans and I live with my mom and wait tables on the weekends to cover my transportation expenses. So I’m pretty much making ends meet. Which gives me a chance to take advantage of this great opportunity before my health insurance runs out and I need a job with actual benefits.
I mean, sure, I have plenty of friends who are working “real jobs” with benefits and pay checks and vacation days and sick days and all of those crazy extravagant things. But I’m not an extravagant girl, you know. Sure, it would be great to be able to move out of my twin bed with princess sheets and actually live with my friends in the city. And, of course, it would be nice not to watch my savings dwindle every time I go out for lunch with my coworkers, but this is my chance to do something big. And creative! Not like my friends, crunching numbers at accounting firms or at some hedge fund. No, this is marketing.
Marketing. What I’ve always wanted to do since last summer when I was forced to make up my mind about my future! I’m still learning what it actually is, but it’s so amazing that I even have the chance to learn that. Most people don’t even get that! They’re just stuck being lazy and entitled and sticking their noses up at amazing opportunities just because they don’t actually pay.
This is it, I just feel it. The big leagues. My bosses promise me that one day I’ll get paid, that as the startup grows, my position and pay will grow. I just have to wait it out. Plus they have crazy industry connections. They could get me a paid job at any big company with just a snap of their fingers, if they wanted to, they told me. Plus, it’s such good experience, they tell me. Any resume with that experience on it is sure to get noticed, even by the most callous recruiter. It’s basically like being paid in experience and connections. Which is something that money can’t buy, so it’s even better than a paycheck!
I’m on my way, Diary. Just think of it. Last year, I spent every day sending out copies of my resume and now, I’m finally somebody! An unpaid internship this year, then a paid one next, then maybe some temp and freelance work for a few years after that and I may even get something entry level before I’m 30! Fingers crossed!