You don’t deserve to be hired if you don’t have that “thing”
Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this post are my own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
I know it’s tough for students and recent grads. Thanks to my job, I know the difficulties my peers face while they make that transition from school to work.
Over the last two years, I never imagined myself being on the flip side of that situation or feeling compelled to comment on Gen Y entitlement. In general, I think it’s been discussed to death and usually consists of much Baby Boomer finger-wagging and head-shaking.
I am not a Baby Boomer. I’m Gen Y. I live and breathe everything Gen Y. I think we’re the most educated, skilled generation to date and, if we get our shit together, we could make the world an amazing place and make money while we’re at it.
But I’m starting to feel frustrated about Gen Y entitlement.
I’ve recently been interviewed by a few young journalists regarding my thoughts on unpaid internships because students are becoming frustrated by them.
To sum up, I don’t think they’re ideal, and in some cases they’re unethical, but they’re the reality of the current job market and to succeed in many industries you have to complete one or more unpaid internships.
I’m a realist. I’ve both completed unpaid internships and hired for unpaid internships as an employer. I try really hard to make TalentEgg’s internships, both paid and unpaid, as meaningful as possible. I don’t think unpaid volunteers should replace full-time paid workers on an ongoing basis, and I don’t think a company should live or die by its unpaid interns.
But this post isn’t about employers. It’s about interns.
Just because you complete a (paid or unpaid) internship with an organization does not mean it is obligated to hire you. This is why:
- If you don’t make yourself so valuable to the organization that it can’t live without you on a full-time, permanent basis, then I don’t think you deserve to be hired.
- If you haven’t demonstrated initiative, autonomy, innovation, vision, passion, and that you can be trusted with responsibilities that are core to the business (at the very least) during your internship, then I don’t think you deserve to be hired.
- If you can’t do your job as good as your manager can (or better!), then I don’t think you deserve to be hired.
Harsh? Maybe. But I would not hire someone who didn’t embody each of those qualities.
So far during my short career as a Gen Y manager and a manager of Gen Y, there has only been one intern who I would have begged my boss to hire; who I could trust with really important projects and tasks; who I knew was making the company bigger and better and stronger; who worked as hard as my colleagues and I, or harder.
We’ve had a lot of great interns. Amazing people. Good workers. I’m not putting them down by any means and I am so, so, SO grateful for all of their hard work.
But did they all have that THING I just couldn’t live without? I don’t think so.
That THING doesn’t have a name, but I like to think of it as the perfect storm of skills and qualities. Each organization and each manager will have a different recipe for that THING (which is why different people and different kinds of people are successful at different organizations), but we know it when we see it because it is so rare that it hits us over the head and slaps us across the face with its awesomeness.
I did not demonstrate that THING at some of my past internships and I know this because no one asked me to stay. I didn’t demonstrate that THING because I didn’t really want to stay.
But I know I demonstrated it at TalentEgg because I went from intern to senior management very quickly, and I’ve maintained my position while I’ve watched many others come and go without making any significant contribution to the company’s culture, growth or bottom line.
A lot of students and recent grads ask my colleagues and I how to find an awesome job. We usually try to offer some actionable tips, but I think the truth is that you just have be remarkable.
Everyone has a degree or diploma, or two or three. Everyone has a resumé. Everyone has connections. Everyone has access to personal branding tools and social media. These things might help you find a job or internship, but they won’t help you keep it. Your behaviour and your work will.