Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

The Forever Intern

What’s that saying, always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Wondering how on Earth this might apply to job seekers? Well it seems like there’s a new mantra for 20-something job seekers and it goes along the lines of always an intern, never a salaried employee. Ok so it doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly, but the sentiment may feel much the same as the old single gal (and in modern times horrible cliche) adage. You’ve looked, put yourself out there, gotten hurt, rejected, and tried to bounce back all so you can watch friends and loved ones feel the joy of that permanent commitment (A salary! 401k! Guaranteed PTO!) while you muddle through the dating pool, trying out different internships while lusting over that signed agreement. Such, though, is the life of the increasingly popular “forever” intern. So what should you do, is there a way to avoid being a “forever” intern?

At a certain point, job seekers start to see every opportunity as a good opportunity. You even feel grateful to be considered as an intern, since usually–in order to avoid legal issues–companies trade academic credit instead of cash for work. After a long enough time trying to find employment, and job seekers who have never held a job out of college aren’t even considered unemployed, an internship with a prestigious company or non-profit can feel like a Godsend.

Don’t get me wrong, being an intern can be an incredible experience. I still work events for places I have interned, keeping in touch with tremendous people who have helped me in my career, but job seekers should be wary of the permanent intern label that seems to be haunting 20-something college graduates.

If job seekers can afford to be a low-paid intern, there are a number of high-level opportunities which could lead to prominent positions in the future. However, for those who are seeking permanent employment immediately, you may consider going a different route. Try a staffing agency, or focus your search on companies with high growth potential who may not offer exactly what you’re looking for right now in terms of salary or title, but which may be able to give you the same room for mobility as those prestigious internships with a little more stability. Permaterns are often driven job seekers who cannot find permanent work at high-level organizations, but job seekers beware of that six-month internship turning into long-term instability.

What are some ideas you have to avoid being an intern forever? Comment below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.