Sep 10 • 53M

Internships

Speakers are Ross Perlin, Jay Greene, and the What Happens Next Interns

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Larry Bernstein

Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein.

What Happens Next is a podcast which covers economics, finance, history, politics and current events.

I make this podcast to learn and I offer this program free of charge to anyone that is interested.  Please tell your friends about it and have them sign-up to receive our weekly emails about upcoming shows.

This week’s program is on internships.

Parents and kids spend a lot of time worrying about getting into college.  But as soon as they enroll, their next concern is landing a big internship, because it may help in landing a job after graduation.

On today’s program, I want to focus on three issues.  How do kids get an internship?  What would be an ideal internship for a particular individual?  And what skill building should the inter focus on?

I want to discuss the topic of internships from both the young adult as well as the employer’s perspective.  Having a corporate internship program is very valuable because it can attract great young talent for future employment.

I had 10 interns this summer for this podcast. They were engaged in all aspects of production from content creation to social media marketing.

You will hear from 8 interns today about how they seek internships, developing skills, and how they plan to use this experience in their future work.

Internships are a critical part of a young person’s development.  I thought it would be entertaining to hear about this podcast’s internship as a case study.

Each week, we have a zoom intern meeting.  The first order of business is to review the last podcast to provide constructive criticism, good and bad.  Each week an intern is required to read a book and then make a case as to whether the author should be on the podcast.  Every few weeks, I invite an adult in the room.  This is a friend of mine who actively listens to the podcast and then participates in the intern call.  It is very helpful for the interns to engage with the adult world, and the feedback from my friends is very valuable.

I work directly with each intern to improve their editing skills, critical thinking, and oral communication.  And the interns teach me stuff as well, particularly all things technology.  As you might suspect, everything comes far easier for them.

Interns need constant feedback and direction.  They don’t know what to do or what is wanted.  But they also love freedom of action, so I tried to give the interns choices.  What books to read, podcasts to create, and which projects to focus on like website design or marketing.

Many of you have teachable skills that would be valuable for young people, and I encourage you to reach out and find interns.  It is very satisfying to interact with intellectually curious and hungry college and high school students, and they will learn a lot from you.

Let’s start with our first speaker Ross Perlin who is the author of the book Intern Nation.

Ross Perlin

Topic: Ethics and Internships
Bio: Linguist and author
Reading: Intern Nation is here

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Opening Remarks:

Every year, millions of young people do internships across the world, a gateway into the world of white collar work

In Intern Nation, my book, I set out to understand internships. Internships fit into a whole pattern of seasonal part-time, independent contractor, freelance work arrangements that bury the old notion of a stable career and work trajectory where you have a single employer.

People have been very slow to recognize the importance of internships. They're very different from apprenticeships. Apprenticeships have thousands of years of history. They are largely concentrated in the trades. And there is regulation around them as well, ensuring that real training is happening, that people are being paid. These are often arranged between employers and unions with an office of apprenticeship as part of the Department of Labor, helping to broker those arrangements, whereas internships have no one paying attention to them. There's a legal limbo that interns have fallen into around things like sexual harassment. Are they actually employees?  Are they working?

Attention needs to be paid to those who cannot do internships. Those who cannot afford the pay to play system. In fields like media and politics, especially unpaid internships, internships that often turn on connections as well, what does it mean for those fields that many people simply can't do them in the first place? Internships have played a role in the widening equality of the last several decades.

Since the work I did with Intern Nation, there has been a real reaction. The Fair Labor Standards Act, which was a cornerstone of New Deal legislation that ended child labor and helped establish the minimum wage and overtime. Many unpaid internships, especially at for-profit employers, were actually illegal.

This led to lawsuits, most famously around the film, Black Swan, to reestablish the principle of a fair wage for a hard day's labor. Some employers have always seen internships as an investment, a key way to source talent. Others have been less scrupulous about it. I don't think what we have is working.

Jay Greene

Topic: Inequality in Internship Programs
Bio: Senior Research Fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, and the Former Department Chair for Education Reform at the University of Arkansas

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Opening Remarks:

Parents should be helpful in getting internship opportunities for their own children in the same way that they should be helpful in all respects for their children. A decent society is built on families where parents develop the full potential of their own children.

We've tried collective child raising by the state. And we have found that those are not the ideal way to help develop the full potential of young people into being decent and productive adults. An internship is just one of the many things that parents could do to help develop the potential of their children.

After all, if parents don't advocate for the wellbeing of their own children, no one else will to the same extent and therefore a good society is one where all parents are trying their best to advocate in this way. But barring engaging in immoral or bad behavior, simply helping your own children is not immoral.

Now, there is something puzzling about why it is that this is an even a matter for your listeners.

What Happens Next Interns

Justin Benjamin, Thomas Triedman, Carly Brail, Nick Ragde, Dylan Partner, Ryan Claffey, Griffith Pool, Dora Wedner (former intern, currently working at 818 Tequila in marketing and sales), and Ross Armon

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