Like other 20-somethings seeking a career foothold, Andrew Lang, a graduate of Penn State, took an internship at an upstart Beverly Hills production company at age 29 as a way of breaking into movie production. It didn’t pay, but he hoped the exposure would open doors.
When that internship proved to be a dead end, Mr. Lang went to work at a second production company, again as an unpaid intern. When that went nowhere, he left for another, doing whatever was asked, like delivering bottles of wine to 27 offices before Christmas. But that company, too, could not afford to hire him, even part time.
A year later, Mr. Lang is on his fourth internship, this time for a company that produces reality TV shows. While this internship at least pays him (he makes $10 an hour, with few perks), Mr. Lang feels no closer to a real job and worries about being an intern forever. “No one hires interns,” said Mr. Lang, who sees himself as part of a “revolving class of people” who can’t break free of the intern cycle. “Is this any way to live?”
I don’t know, spending a fortune at Penn State studying ‘entertainment’ and our intrepid intern wonders why he can’t find a job?
I’ll admit I have no experience in the world of entertainment, but I would expect the only way to break into the entertainment field is either knowing the right person or you are insanely talented and know someone. Obtaining a sheepskin from Penn State isn’t going to introduce you to the right person or suddenly make you insanely talented.
The NYT sob story continues:
The intern glass ceiling isn’t limited to Hollywood. Tenneh Ogbemudia, 23, who aspires to be a record executive, has had four internships at various New York media companies, including Source magazine and Universal Music Group.
“In any given month, I’d say I apply to at least 300 full-time jobs,” she said, noting these attempts were to no avail. “On the other hand, I can apply to one or two internship positions a month and get a call back from both.”
Call them members of the permanent intern underclass: educated members of the millennial generation who are locked out of the traditional career ladder and are having to settle for two, three and sometimes more internships after graduating college, all with no end in sight.
Again, you need to know the right person, or be insanely talented and know the right person. Or you need to be a connected entrepreneur and start your own record label:
In 1944 brothers Nesuhi and Ahmet Ertegun elected to remain in the USA when their mother and sister returned to Turkey, following the death of their father Munir Ertegun, who had been the first Turkish Ambassador to the United States. The brothers had become ardent fans of jazz and rhythm & blues music, amassing a collection of over 15,000 78rpm records. Ahmet ostensibly stayed on in Washington to undertake post-graduate music studies at Georgetown University but immersed himself in the Washington music scene and decided to enter the record business, then enjoying a resurgence after wartime restrictions on the shellac used in manufacture. He convinced the family dentist, Dr Vahdi Sabit, to invest $10,000 and recruited Herb Abramson, a dentistry student. Abramson had worked as a part-time A&R manager/producer for the jazz label National Records, signing Big Joe Turner and Billy Eckstine, and then founded Jubilee Records, but had no interest in its most successful artists and subsequently sold his share in Jubilee, investing $2500 in the new Atlantic label.
Yep, a kid with a wild dream became an entrepreneur and used his connections to get his vision off the ground. Granted this is very rare, especially in the entertainment world.
The Times tale of woe continues:
That may explain why millennials like Breanne Thomas, 24, an aspiring entrepreneur in Brooklyn, has bounced from internship to internship. Unlike her parents’ generation, it is not enough to find a steady job; she wants to follow the path of Mark Zuckerberg, or at least to get in on the ground floor of the next Facebook, the next Twitter.
“ ‘Success’ doesn’t always mean financial success, but doing something you’re passionate about,” said Ms. Thomas, who graduated with two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Oregon in 2012. “It’s kind of my goal one day to have my own company, to be part of something that is going to do something great. That’s why I’m in tech.”
That kind of ambition comes with a price, however. Competition for salaried high-tech jobs is fierce, so Ms. Thomas has had to settle for internships: three, so far, including at a five-person food-delivery start-up, a beauty products site and, currently, a well-known social-networking app that she asked not to name.
Tech isn’t just working at the next startup trying to emulate Twitter or Facebook. If our tech intern is decent software engineer, what about working in a more traditional industry? Manufacturers are always looking for engineers to develop embedded software.
Sure, you won’t be able to ride your scooter wearing a ironic t-shirt at Ford Motor Co’s Product Development Center. However, what you will have is a good paying, interesting and steady career.