May 4, 2020
Now that it's early March, college students and high schoolers should start thinking about how they're going to spend their summer. One popular -- and highly productive -- pursuit is an internship.
I've dealt with a number of both high school and college students who have worked internships. In many cases, an internship creates a path to getting hired as a full-time employee. In those cases where full employment doesn't follow, the internship experience provides a taste of workplace reality, for better or worse, along with some decent background qualifications.
When our son was an undergraduate majoring in electrical engineering, he worked an interesting internship at a local hospital, in their sleep studies center. He created a Website and online teaching tutorials for the staff there, putting to good use his programming and problem solving skills. He didn't end up in a medical-related field, but his time at the sleep lab did teach him valuable lessons about workplace dynamics and how to manage his task time and professional interpersonal relationships.
Speaking of college students (and some high schoolers) in the workplace, there has been a lot of discussion both in the national media and among local professionals I know about the mindset and behaviors of the so-called Millennials in the workplace. Just yesterday I saw this interesting news item:
Most college students and some high school seniors are Millennials. Their place, performance, and preferences in the workplace are different than that of prior generations, particularly those of the Baby Boomers, who are noted for 30-plus-years-long careers with one employer.
Of course, the work environment today is much different than it was three-to-four decades ago, when Baby Boomers were entering or already in the job market. Employer circumstances are also markedly different today, much more complex, so that has some impact on employee movement, I'm sure.
The article I mention has some interesting points. Here are a few highlights:
More than a third of the workforce in the United States is between the ages of 18 and 34 years old, which means millennials have surpassed Generation X to represent the largest share of working Americans. It's critical, then, that companies know how to recruit and retain millennials — and studies show it's not all about beer taps in their communal kitchens, craft coffee or bagel Fridays.
Research recently commissioned by Jive Communications in Utah found that flexible working hours, the option to work remotely, speedy technology and an open company culture are key to reeling in the millennials and actually keeping them around. The No. 1 reason millennials leave their jobs, the study found, is because they don't like the atmospheres of their offices — a mixture of all those factors.
Jive Communications looked at 2,000 millennials and asked them about their workplace requirements and why they leave. Thirty-seven percent said having a job with flexible hours is essential, and a quarter of those reported they'd left jobs because they couldn't work flexibly. The ability to work remotely was also an important factor for 63 percent of millennials surveyed, who said they might not be interested in future jobs if working remotely wasn't an option. Sixty-four percent of the millennials surveyed also said they'd leave a job if it were too difficult to take sick or personal days. Meanwhile, over 70 percent said they strongly prefer fast in-office technology, and without it, 20 percent of the millennials polled said they would actually quit.
But the No. 1 reason they left was because they simply didn't vibe well with their office atmospheres. In fact, the study found that the average millennial has already had three jobs, and the majority of them start to look for another job before they hit the three-year mark in their current positions. Another 24 percent are only at a job for six months to a year before they start hunting again, and 30 percent start looking between a year and 18 months. ...
This can bring us back to the value of internships. Those Millennials who have not had the opportunity or bothered to seek out internships are perhaps at a sociological disadvantage. In other words, their expectations of what it's like in the "real world" may be overly romanticized and in serious conflict with what and how things happen at job sites.
Thus, knowing about Millennial tendencies leads me to offer some advice to those of you high schoolers, college students, and even parents who may be reading this. The advice is about seeking internships and it comes from a source that guides young people to a well-matched internship. Here's some background and additional insight from InternAlliance CEO, Danielle Gruppo:
As the calendar turns to March, it's time for college students to start thinking about where they will head for their summer internship opportunity. A recent article from Entrepreneur.com shows that more companies are looking to hire summer interns based on their knowledge of Mobile marketing.
Danielle Gruppo, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of InternAlliance, a unique online service that connects qualified college students to viable internship opportunities, urges students to focus their resumes on highlighting skillsets that appeal to startups saying, “While looking for the highest paying job is always appealing, internship opportunities should be about finding a company that will provide opportunities to offer a fresh perspective to the business."
Gruppo continued, “The days of running out for coffee are over. Today's youth can bring a lot to the table and it's important that they look to give as much as they receive during their internship experience."
The most important factor for businesses looking for interns, according to the Entreprenuer.com piece, is an enthusiasm and a willingness to offer a fresh perspective on different technological platforms.
Gen Z interns grew up with a mobile phone in their hands. They understand how to navigate these platforms and may just offer the newest way to market and expand a business. ...
For some final perspective, let's go back to to that article about the so-called job-hoppers:
... So while companies are reeling millennials in with in-office games and sports opportunities, they're retaining millennials with promises of job security, mentorship opportunities and flexibility. This also means that, contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't necessarily the lazy job-hoppers America thinks they are. The Pew Research Center recently reported millennial workers are actually just as likely to stick with their employers as Gen Xers were when they were young adults. In fact, among the college-educated, millennials have an even longer tenure than Gen Xers did in 2000 when they were the same age as today's millennials. ...
I feel that college students and even motivated high schoolers should seek out well-suited internships. My days in the military taught me one thing: intelligence is the best defense. The more intelligence information a young person can gain about the realities of working a "real-life" job can prove to be their best defense against dissatisfaction and the urge to move on too quickly, thus increasing the nested loop of ongoing frustration. Being young, especially these days as part of that oft-stigmatized Millennial demographic doesn't have to be a handicap. With the right information and planning, it can actually be an advantage.
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