Interns are often regarded as and treated as second-class citizens in the world of work. Businesses, managers, and corporate hierarchies often look down on interns as an easy to manipulate resource which can be exploited unfairly.
The reasons for this are obvious, the power dynamics are totally weighted in favor of those in established positions, and people in positions of power love nothing more than exerting this power over others.
This has led to interns becoming some of the most mistreated, underappreciated, and exploited workers in the country.
The constant repetition of crass myths and half-truths has led to a perpetuating cycle of mistreatment and disrespect that has massively undermined the appeal of internships and their value to both companies and interns alike.
This is a massive shame, as internships should be a chance to craft and tutor the next generation of industry captains and leaders, not as a simple ego trip for people already in positions of authority.
Many of these mistruths do a disservice to the incredibly talented and hardworking young interns that are coming out of colleges and high schools with high hopes and ambitions, only to find a stagnating work culture with few opportunities, rampant exploitation, and many other worrying issues.
In this guide, we’re going to debunk some of the worst myths about interns to push back against this and to show that internships do have worth and that interns deserve to be treated with respect as they learn their trades.
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You’ll Spend All Day Making Tea And Coffee
This is a myth heavily perpetuated by the media, particularly films and movies, with the idea being that interns are only fit to perform menial tasks instead of being trusted to perform real work and learn effectively.
While doing errands and other tasks may fall into the remit of an intern, if you’re spending all day making beverages your time, as well as the company’s time, is being wasted.
Internships are to help new prospective employees and leaders learn in a real working environment.
In fact, most quality internships will allow interns to be proactive and engage directly with the work of that particular company meaningfully to develop relationships and help develop the intern’s progress more rapidly.
All Interns Are Unpaid Or Poorly Paid
While it’s true that interns are heavily exploited and misled, there are many internships that are legitimate and which pay fairly for the time you are working.
This is especially true at reputable businesses where the intern may be expected to perform crucial tasks and play an active role in the work of a particular company or position.
Interns Are Clueless
This all stems from the idea that interns are fresh out of school with very little practical or real-world experience.
However, this can vary immensely from person to person, and it’s impossible to judge a person’ maturity, knowledge, or experience based on the fact that they’re an intern, and it’s these sort of prejudicial regressive opinions which are eroding the confidence of the new generation of workers, as well as ruining the reputation and value of internships, as fewer people take the interns or the internships seriously when looking to recruit.
Internships Always Happen In The Summer
Internships can happen all year round, and it would be a grave mistake to miss out on the various opportunities across the world which spring up at various points in the year.
While it was traditional for internships to happen in the summer when students and youngers have the free time to invest in an internship, there are often intakes of interns nearly every quarter in some industries, indicating that many people are keen to work and looking for opportunities at all times, finding ways to fit their studies around the acquisition of more practical hands-on experience.
You Should Only Intern In A Field You Want To Pursue
Another falsehood that is very limiting.
Internships aren’t always about building your dream career. A lot of the time, interns and young people aren’t fully sure of what career is going to work for them.
Internships are one of the best ways of testing out a particular working environment or field, without committing to it long term.
Internships allow young workers to test out their skills in various fields and find one that works for them, while also gaining experience that could be useful in various later professions.
It’s a win-win for both interns and employers to offer experience widely, in order to find and produce the best candidates possible.
You Can’t Get An Internship Without A Degree
While it’s true graduates often look for internships as a way to gain quick experience after a period of study, there are plenty of internships that don’t require a college education, so don’t let this myth put you off applying for internships and trying to gain experience in a field you’re passionate about.
Internships are a chance to show your passion and drive, regardless of your education.
Interns Aren’t Hardworking
This may be the most nefarious myth of them all, and it’s a massive disrespect to the millions of young people looking for jobs and trying to find a good career.
In fact, interns are some of the hardest workers and most motivated prospective employees, especially when you consider how underused, underpaid, and underappreciated they typically are.
Interns Don’t Deserve To Be Paid
There are various arrangements that can make internships lucrative, but being paid for your work is one of the most fundamental rights and responsibilities of any civilized nation and society.
The fact that interns are exploited so much as a massive smudge on the credibility and name of any company that does so.
Interns do deserve to be compensated for their time in more than just experience and knowledge, and even a small stipend can do a lot to open doors and help people find a foothold in an increasingly hostile and competitive jobs market.