Interns – Where Are They Now That They Could Be Useful?
Editor’s note: This is the latest post from Daniel Braddock, your friendly Human Resources Professional. He could very well be considered a hypothetical love child of Suze Orman and Toby Flenderson. Following his varsity jacket wearing college days, he entered the consumer markets as an auditor for a Big 4 firm in New York City. He spent three brisk years as an auditor before taking the reins of stirring the HR kool-aid. He currently resides in Manhattan. Daily routines include coffee breakfasts and scotch dinners. You can follow him on Twitter @DWBraddock.
You might agree with the sentiment that now would be a fantastic time to have an extra set of hands ticking and tying through the night. Where are those lovable interns when you could actually put them to good use?
I’ll tell you where they are. They’re sitting in class or – depending when this is published – already at the bar for Tuesday’s dollar beer night. They’re getting their McStudy on, prepping for what promises to be one of the best summer internships in the job market today.
As Francine McKenna mentioned, the Big 4’s intern programs are regarded as some of the strongest. Why? It’s certainly not because the programs offer rigorous, reality-driven experiences. The bulk of interns experience your firms during the summer months; nothing like busy season. Many of you were interns yourselves, spending 8-12 weeks basking in the attractive glow of the 10-year partner track and abundance of work/life initiatives.
The fundamental purpose of an internship was – for a long time – a simple machine: offer students the ability to “test” a career in public accounting while providing H.R. with a fulltime hire “pre-screening” process. Programs have elaborated to the points of gross extreme (more about this on Thursday), but the general principle remains.
This is why I disagree with Francine’s comment that, “hiring more interns instead has big pitfalls, for both the employee and the firm.” Personally, I’d rather my firm hire its entire new fulltime class from the previous intern pool, and why the hell not? As light and fluffy as the experience is, the internship program can weed out the few incompetents that snuck through partner interviews. Of course, that’s assuming management gives half a damn and spends more than 1.7 seconds completing the H.R. performance reviews for each intern.
The root of the problem is that the “best” internship programs have lost touch with the core values of the past. Ten years ago interns were local students working part-time in order to save money for a car payment or next semester’s books. The experience was elementary but worthy nonetheless. Now, the current state of the Big 4’s programs are a product of keeping up with the Joneses. Summer months set the competitive stage for training sessions, mentorships, ball games and beers. Stir in a high paying salary (with the possibility for overtime!) and H.R. wonders where the Millennial Generation’s sense of entitlement originates. The Kool-aid is spiked with the fruits of privilege.
Don’t expect things to change anytime soon.