'Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown' quoth Shakespeare. Evidently he didn't have an eager, ambition-thirsty Intern to prop that head up with flagons of tea and expenses receipts. It's impossible to quantify the humble intern's effect on wider business outcomes and the larger global economy, yet if trickle-up theory is to be believed, the efforts of this fringe set could have untold impact on the FTSE100 and beyond. From simply keeping an office hydrated to keeping their desks reprograhically abundant, the intern is both a pawn and a knight to a business.
The fundamental relationship between the intern and their employer is really very simple and vastly beneficial to both parties on a scale that is not accessible to a general employee. It's currency, it's mutual back-scratching and what's more, they both desperately need each other in a time when employment statistics make for uncomfortable bed fellows with an interminably sea sick economy. The league of interns are a force imbued by the stamina of the young, the expectations of the lofty and most crucially, an adept productivity inherent in a generation raised on immediacy and technological savvy. They are a secret weapon not yet fully recognised and appreciated for the life line they are.
This year saw over 425,000 students claw, tooth and nail, successfully at University places, up over 10,000 from last year. Students are desperate to avoid the coming year's fee rise, packing away plans for gap years and cancelling year long placements in order to take up places they would next year be unable to afford. Debates over the fee hike aside, beware the delicate balance of education versus experience. Whilst not mutually exclusive, they are parallel yet distinct means to the same end and more often than not, graduates who become a statistic are the ones who mistake them for an either/or. Victims of this error appear three years older, one degree and a lot of bills 'richer' yet have garnered so little in bankable perspicacity that they're dead in the water before they've begun.
Too fine a point can be made of the benefits of being an intern, afterall it's time consuming, often times expensive and recent arguments have arisen extolling the lack of liberties and respect afforded this most humbled of workers. Still, there is no denying the sheer building-block value of a placement; the opportunities for networking, the acquirement and refinement of skills and, at its core, fundamental and crucial gains in maturity. It's the grey area of employment internships offer that is the their greatest strength and port in the storm during the great débâcle over beleaguered youth employment and potentially disastrous educational shake-ups. There are no contracts, no obligations and the work is sometimes so painfully easy you're left wondering whether you can claim day-dreams on expenses. Whilst this may sound like three solid reasons not to intern, it's simply the toll of claiming those few extra, invaluable, lines on a CV. However, banal career ascension, climbing the ladder rung by rung, soon grows to the crescendo - a paid, full-time, post-graduate position that you feel ready for and crucially, are prepared for.
As students it should be our prerogative to gain an education in both academic and practical terms, simultaneously if at all possible, feng-sui'ing your time like one is expected to, and the rewards will pay off as you find yourself a head higher and job titles further than your fellow graduates. This year then, stalk some executives, letter the neighbourhood and get a respectable email address. When you're not in raked lecture seating you should have a nice office chair to call your own, your laurels can be rested on later.
Follow Nicholas Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nickthewriter