You Are Eligible To Apply For An Internship

Less than two weeks ago, an organization I respect let me know I “matched new jobs.” The jobs included “summer internships.”

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Today I received another email. I “matched new jobs.” This time the jobs included “paid summer intern.”

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Let’s talk about this.

I’m quick to stick up for young feminists no matter who wants to give me shit for it and identify as the oldest possible millennial, but I’m 35. I’m a suburban mom. I have worked in a variety of professional positions, consulting roles, and management positions and have co-founded a new organization.

My quibble and reason for writing is not what anyone thinks of me. I’m in my work to make change, not to be loved. If you think I’m intern-level, okay. Susan B. Anthony nailed this:

“Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really earnest must be willing to be anything and nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with the despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

The problem is that automated recruiting software thinks that someone with my experience level — someone working in professional positions since 2002 — might be a good intern. Or maybe, after almost two weeks go by, a paid intern.

What is wrong with recruiting software? What is wrong with our economy? Where are the jobs?

I remember meeting up with a former unpaid intern I worked with who had subsequently graduated in the top third of her law school class and been offered a variety of additional unpaid internships in Washington women’s organizations. The unpaid internship is a despicable thing, but what bothered me at least as much was the sense that a smart, capable law school graduate is internship fodder.

None of this is to throw shade on older interns. It takes a great kind of chutzpah to embrace a fresh start and initiate a do-over as an adult, and looking back, I think the oldest people in my college classes must have been the coolest.

But something is dramatically wrong when our economy seeks to make interns of people qualified for jobs.

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