Sunday, February 13, 2011

Your Career and You: "Read Between the Lines...and TALK"

As usual, I was having an interesting conversation with a couple of my Communication students at Curry College last week.

One of them is a Public Relations concentration disciple; the other is Theatre. Both are bright, driven, and full of optimism when it comes to their respective futures.

We were talking about internships, and the subject of "internship scams" came up. Seems both of them were singed...they caught on before getting less-than-forthright "internship" ads.

Both had conducted their own searches for internships, just as we encourage them to do. The idea is to promote self-sufficiency, with the knowledge that you can always come back to us...Career Services... faculty advisors...professors with industry connections...for more guidance.

Both had come across what sounded like the most amazing internship on earth! Not only would they "gain valuable marketing experience"; they would "earn while learning!"

I'm salivating myself as I read these words!! my version of the old adage goes: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't!"

To both these young future professionals' credit, they decided to do a quick online "background check" on their respective companies. And, in both cases, the first ten or so hits were warnings to beware the scammer.

Now I would love to get on my white horse and crusade throughout the land chastising those companies that prey on unsuspecting young college students and others.

Since that isn't going to happen, though, I take the alternate route of making sure that our Career Services folks are fully aware of the scammer and that each and every one of my own advisees (academic AND internship) is aware of the potential risks.

So what to do, you ask? Simple...TALK!

> Tell your advisor/professor/Career Services rep what company you're looking at.
> Ask what he or she knows about the company or if he or she has heard anything about it.
> Look online to see what others may have said, positively OR negatively, about the company and their own experience.
Keep a record of your search results and share them so that others won't be scammed.

Internships, as well as entry-level jobs, are opportunities for you to learn or to perfect the skills that you need to succeed in your chosen career field. Unfortunately, there are those who see you as "cheap labor" and will take advantage of your perceived innocence.

The good news is that you have a network of resources (mentioned above) that you can turn to. Use them...use them all.

The goal is for you to learn...both in the classroom and the workplace... and not be taken advantage of in either. You already check out your professors pretty the same with your potential intern-ships or jobs!

It's all a learning experience. And the more you experience, the more you will learn.

To repeat one of my favorite lines from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's (aka Lewis Carroll) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

"That's the reason they're called lessons," the Gryphon remarked: "because they lessen from day to day." [Turtle's Story, p. 145]


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