Facebook and Twitter spent several years operating without any revenues.
The thing they had going on was that people wanted to use the services. The user bases grew.
Recently in January 2016, Marie Claire was brutally assailed by public opinion after they advertised a R30 per day internship post. This amount won't commute anyone to work, let alone afford them lunch. Actually what they did given their stature is disgusting.
BUT. Graduates should go for it. If it were me, knowing the little that I know now about the economics of careers and what makes it, I would grab the chance. I will fix a way to finance the difference.
Why? It is a window to get in, learn to do the job, practice and meet the stakeholders.
What matters in a company is the financial value an employee brings in. As a graduate, your potential contribution hasn't been tested and validated in the real world.
Let me detail what this financial value is:
- Every employee has a financial value to contribute in a company. They have to produce more value than they are paid. This is how companies remain businesses and afford all other costs.
- An editor of a magazine has to drive his/her team to produce compelling sales driving segments. The segment journalist also has to produce a compelling value driving piece. The magazine has to turn maximum sales in ads and print copies to afford the resources it employs and make a profit for the owners.
- Security guards also. They protect assets that otherwise the company would suffer greater loss given risks like theft (high possibility).
Stakeholders (access and platform)
A skill needs someone to buy it. It is easier to sell the skill if who to sell it to is known and there is access to them.
Getting into a job opens doors to the access.
A new intern at Marie Claire, for example, will be in the vicinity of stakeholders, i.e. editors, photographers, advertisers, rival magazines etc.
In a year or so when they have learned the skills they were training for, because there is access, they can approach all these stakeholders for a better paying job or introduction to it. The plus is their value has been validated.
It is easier when you have access and you have been seen in action.
Millions of graduates are waiting for an opportunity to be called in to learn to do the job via an internship. This is competition.
Sticking with the Marie Claire example, a graduate applying for internship would have advantage if he has worked for a community newspaper or campus magazine prior (in most cases, both these do not pay).
If he hasn't done anything, 'I will volunteer my time free' is a bargaining chip that could give them advantage over the competition
Getting in at all cost is a window to get in, learn to do the job and be in the vicinity of the stakeholders.
How can I prove my potential? The answer for most is 'when I get an opportunity': a job, promotion, funding, etc. This is the most backward time to prove one's potential.
The best time is: when unemployed - doing everything to get in even if it means volunteering, and when employed – going beyond what is expected. Better opportunities are attracted to those better prepared.
In a marathon you don't get the medal first and then run to win.
Quick takeaway. Potential is the space between your reality and ambition. To realise it, you have to move from your reality towards your ambitions. It often requires taking a new action which can shape your reality in a new way. It is not a destination. Whether your ambitions are achieved or not, the mere act of moving from reality to ambitions or beyond - improves you.
At any stage you are in, to be a contender for the next level, you ought to practice more. And when you have, you become a compelling contender, soon you are amongst the best and people will start paying you for your skills.
I always hear people say they have been headhunted. These people have proven to be of more financial value to employers than their colleagues have.
Like Facebook and Twitter, go 'before' and further than money.
Dear graduate, maybe no one is using you yet (e.g. employment), but the responsibility is yours for the creation of an attractive you.
If you are not in yet, fight for every opportunity to get in at all costs.
The CEOs of companies are not there just because they have the academic qualifications – it goes further. They are worth the buck. They have proved they can produce more financial value in their past roles – before the chief executive officership was presented to them.
Pay it forward for your own sake. Unfortunately no one told us it is our responsibility for making ourselves attractive to opportunities before they even come up.