Streams

Interns with Experience

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl and WOW CEO Joni Evans, discuss their new Executive Intern program for women looking to switch careers. Would you take an internship if it meant a shot at a new career? Comment below!

Guests:

Joni Evans and Lesley Stahl

Comments [33]

Allan Hoffman

At Web100.com, we've hired several unpaid interns who have several years of experience in the workplace. For this to be fair to the intern -- for it to be a valuable experience that will further his/her career -- I think it's important for the intern and the company to think through the interns' goals and responsibilities. You really want to offer the "executive" intern (a) significant responsibilities, (b) the chance to gain a skill they don't have, and that they really need/want, and (c) a way to demonstrate that they've produced/created something valuable/interesting during the internship experience.

Put it this way: If you're a college sophomore, an internship might be a great experience even if it involves nothing more than administrative tasks. That's because you'd be getting a sense of what the "real world" workplace is like and you'd be gaining insight about a particular industry (just by seeing how other people do their jobs).

Things are very different when you've already got that "real world" experience. In these situations, the internship really needs to provide something more than gap-filler for a resume. For instance, with Web100.com, our interns -- who may already have experience in journalism or PR/marketing -- are gaining know-how in writing for an online audience, using social media tools (Twitter, Facebook) for reporting or marketing/PR, the workings of a sophisticated content-management system, and other areas involved in working in new media. Many people in these fields realize they've just got to get these skills if they're going to find new jobs, and the internship is one way to do it.

Also, I think it's important to construct the internship so there's a lot of flexibility, if possible, to allow the intern to spend time to look for paid employment.

--
Allan Hoffman
CEO and Founder
Web100.com
http://www.web100.com

Mar. 18 2009 01:44 PM
Ophra Wolf from Brooklyn, NY

In response to the Interns with Experience segment, I wanted to let you know about a more grass roots approach to helping not just women, but the local Brooklyn community gain some important web skills.

Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day is a new international holiday created by the Fund for Women Artist and celebrated on the last Saturday of March, which is Women's History Month.

As our second annual celebration of SWAN Day, Pulse Studio in Brooklyn (www.pulsestudio.org) is offering a series of incredibly affordable workshops taught by local women artists of the highest caliber. Among the workshops being offered is a three-hour crash course in Web Publishing, taught by Ursula Wing, and covering basic HTML (in Dreamweaver), CSS, Java, and Flash. Ursula is offering the workshop for only $15!

The underlying philosophy that the studio is pursuing aims at creating a culture of mutual support and empowerment in our pursuit of personal, professional and social growth. Internships are fine and dandy if you can afford them, and as artists we have all been through numerous internships and countless "work for free" situations, but they are no guarantee of future employment, especially in the current economic climate! On the other hand, people getting together to share their skills, inspire and support one another is undoubtedly more likely to lead to the kind of growth and connections that help us move forward in life. The idea for the workshops grew out of last year's event, which opened with a discussion group of the women who were presenting work in a multi-media group show organized by the studio. The women continued to meet throughout the year for discussions and skill sharing sessions, and decided to celebrate SWAN Day this year by sharing our skills with the greater public.

There is more information about the workshops at www.pulsestudio.org. They are open to the public and require pre-registration.

Best,

Ophra Wolf

Mar. 18 2009 12:49 PM
Leslie Reed Shields from Oyster Bay New York

I am an accomplished 53 year old organizational consultant with my own business and I have been contemplating returning to an educational environment that will take me to the next iteration of my professional life. During college I had considered journalism and the nature of my career paths have repreatedly brought me back to the notion that I could combine my methods of inquiry into organizational life with the process of journalistic inquiry; in essence going beneath the surface of what is not being said or asked. It seems to me the idea of an executive intern would be perfect for exploring my next stage of career development. How might I explore this

Mar. 18 2009 12:26 PM
Andrea Clark from New York, NY

I would love this opportunity. How can I apply? Thanks so much for having Ms. Stahl and Ms. Evans on your show and getting the word out!

Best wishes,
Andrea

Mar. 18 2009 12:21 PM
James B from NYC

Internship is simply a kind of 'barter'. In exchange for my inexperienced & therefore mostly 'uneconomical' labor I get the opportunity to learn some new skill(s) which will give me the experience that will enable me to enter a new field & get a paying position - once my skill level is worth an employer's willingness to compensate. Usually it comes at the start of a working career, so is associated with the young (as in the form of apprenticeship in many European economies) - but in a new economy where career changes will be more the norm than the exception for many - we can expect midlife intern or apprenticeship to become common. Our social security system was established to provide for the inevitability of our old age & consequent unproductiveness, so it may make sense to re-design our unemployment system to accomodate this new world of work & career change to provide income stability during periods of career transition.

Mar. 18 2009 12:08 PM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

Geez, if people you want to be outraged, I have some real places for you to put your energy. Last month I referred a rape victim to a domestic violence shelter so she didn't have to go home to her abuser and there was no room for her in the shelter. Oh, and yeah, I work as a unpaid volunteer. There are people out there with skills and without work who are willing to "pitch in" wherever they can. If a grown up with education and experience chooses to be an intern, they likely do so with their own interests in mind. If you want to find real "victims", there are plenty out there, like in a shelter (or on the streets because the shelters are full). Get real.

Mar. 18 2009 12:07 PM
Vanessa from Brooklyn, NY

I think this is a great idea. I have heard that older women especially are facing age discrimination in the workplace and in hiring. I would like to see more discussion on wnyc about age discrimination of women in the workplace, media, and society in general.

Mar. 18 2009 12:05 PM
Grace from Jersey city

I am a young intern in the fashion industry. I must admit that I consider it a waste of my time. As a fashion designer I have many skills in patternmaking, draping, art, and many times more updated computer skills than the people I am working for. However, most often I am not learning or using my skills, but running around town looking for the right size oak tag, the perfect color post-its or getting coffee.

I find that among my peers, there is little gained from internships except that we get behind in our schoolwork, and end up bitter towards the industry.

Mar. 18 2009 12:00 PM
Becca

I am a young office manager who has had older interns - who are older than I am, and it is deeply unconfortable to give tasks to someone twice my age.

Mar. 18 2009 11:59 AM
Hank Samuel from New York

It's difficult to hear this story on WNYC, a company that routinely uses unpaid, adult 'interns' to prep talk show hosts like Leonard Lopate, while the CEO made approx $450K in 2007 according to the company's Form 990 (available on www.guidestar.com).

Mar. 18 2009 11:59 AM
Andrew Brooks from New York City

This is beyond disgusting. Business owners who are paying themselves as much as they can are getting 40-year old adults who have to live in the most expensive city in the world for NOTHING. Paying them ZERO.

And supposedly "progressive" wnyc is helping them promote this?

I never thought I would see the greed and chutzpah of AIG topped in one mere day.

Mar. 18 2009 11:56 AM
Betsy from Williamsburg

p.s. If you know action script 3 (or are a fast learner) please contact YAI and tell them you'd like to be an intern for Betsy Cohen.
Good luck to all!

Mar. 18 2009 11:56 AM
Karl Weber

Low-paid or unpaid internships do create an entry barrier that only affluent or subsidized people can afford. They are common in media businesses (publishing, broadcasting) and help ensure that the next generation of leaders in these industries will be mainly white and privileged.

Mar. 18 2009 11:56 AM
L Gaskill from Astoria, NY

I understand that these types of internships provide an opportunity for all people, and especially people at a midcareer point, to learn about technology and gain marketable skills, which is great.

But, as someone recently graduated from college (2007), and whose former classmates are being laid off left and right from their entry level business jobs, I want to speak for the youngins' and say, save the internships for us! I have a friend, laid off, who is applying for a summer internship, in hopes of getting back on his feet and getting experience.

This is another example of the young generations getting the short end of the stick when it comes to jobs, as older people are retiring later and now, are even starting to occupy Internships, the only job once saved for the young and inexperienced.

Mar. 18 2009 11:56 AM
robert from park slope

These situations often end up with someone crying: employers get accustomed to free labor (which, by the way, puts pressure on co-workers) and the interns, over time, will develop a sense of entitlement and outrage over the fact that they're doing all this work for free.

Mar. 18 2009 11:55 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

My 18 year old son watches 60 minutes religiously at college in Montreal...

Mar. 18 2009 11:55 AM
K from NJ from NJ

Never mind - he's married to Andrea Mitchell, another TV journalist

Mar. 18 2009 11:55 AM
Betsy from Williamsburg

I work for a non-for profit and I am making video games for people with disabilities. I've needed to hire interns to do the programing in Flash. I've asked around my friends and they all say "oh, no. Sorry I need paid work." In the mean time they remain unemployed.
The game we are making is revolutionary. And to take part in the development is both fulfilling and exciting. It is a great gem in any portfolio.
I will be interviewing so many great potential interns next week found from places like craigslist. Working on this game will improve anyones portfolio so much, my friends don't know what they are missing.

Mar. 18 2009 11:54 AM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

I "hear" Brett's point but what if the intern is also "exploiting" the workplace? Paying for classes at a university or technical college to retrain can be expensive (especially when you're not working).

Mar. 18 2009 11:53 AM
Janny from jersey city

Andrea Mitchell is married to Alan Greenspan.

Mar. 18 2009 11:52 AM
Jane from Westchester from Westchester County, NY

Twice now, your guests have made snide remarks about age. They wouldn't dare make anti-gay or anti-Jewish remarks, but for some reason ageism is acceptable. Perhaps some of their interns wouldn't be out of work if there was less discrimination about being over 45.

Mar. 18 2009 11:52 AM
K from NJ from NJ

Isn't Leslie Stahl married to Alan Greenspan, former head of the Fed? Is this the type of job he envisioned in the new economy?

Mar. 18 2009 11:51 AM
Edward from NJ

When I was of the typical intern age, I found that many "good" internships require that the intern receive college credit. I never took an internship since that would have actually meant paying to work -- not merely working for free.

Mar. 18 2009 11:51 AM
bob from huntington

is this a paid or unpaid internship? if unpaid, only someone with some sort of subsidy (or no need for money) could realistically consider this.

Mar. 18 2009 11:50 AM
Trish from Jersey City

I'm 52, gave up corporate life in 2005 for a life in the arts. It's been a roller-coaster, to say the least. Four years later, the fates have conspired to make freelancing a bit of a nightmare in this economy -- I often can't even cover my bills -- but I am interning with a theater company to learn new aspects of production, am beginning to draw a little income in this area and feel confident that I made the right decision.

Mar. 18 2009 11:50 AM
Janny from jersey city

Much like Lori from Montclair, my plan B if i get laid off from my job in branding/marketing is to offer my services to WNYC! When i think about the things i am passionate about, public radio is at the top of the list. I'd even get your coffee, Brian - unpaid - should the opportunity arise!

Mar. 18 2009 11:50 AM
rosie from brooklyn

I am 31 and have just recently completed an internship at Vogue Magazine. I managed to get in under the radar and get around the usual "college credit" requirement, but I must say most companies are quite strict about allowing people to intern without college credit.

Mar. 18 2009 11:50 AM
Brett from Long Island City

You know who loses, people that can't afford to work for nothing.

Mar. 18 2009 11:49 AM
Aaron from Gramercy

Simple question (please ask on air): How does compensation work in these "experienced/executive intern" arrangements?

Many employers, especially now, are posting ads for internships that are either unpaid or inclusive of only a small stipend, but no actual living wage.

Mar. 18 2009 11:48 AM
Tali Philipson from Port Washington, NY

I'm 41 and unhappy with being an attorney, so I would definately consider an internship.

Mar. 18 2009 11:46 AM
loveless from Northern New Jersey

At the age of 50, I just accepted a part time internship with an art gallery in NYC. Why? I got laid off from a job in publishing I hated. I got a package and I'm eligible to collect unemployment payments. It’s a win-win situation; I do not jeopardize my unemployment. I get out of the house & socialize. I can sample a new career. For the first time in a long time I’m excited to go to work.

Mar. 18 2009 11:45 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Yes, I would. Where do I send my resume?

Mar. 18 2009 11:25 AM
Lori from Montclair, NJ

Interesting indeed! I'm at a crossroads in my career and I must admit I was tempted to apply for one of the internships at WNYC. I am not completely dependent on a salary at this time in my life and it is an excellent opportunity to learn about a new industry. (Plus, it feels more productive than being home all day listening in my PJs.)

Once you reach a certain point in your career, it becomes nearly impossible to start over. Most employers are skeptical that a middle aged person with accomplishments would be willing to perform entry level work. It's a valid concern but if you truly have an interest in an industry and/or you cannot find work in your former industry, a "grown up" can be just as, if not more, motivated than a college student. I don't see it as an act of desperation but rather an opportunity to grow professionally and personally.

Mar. 18 2009 10:11 AM

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