Internships are an important part of any college education. They allow students to test out their skills, and to dip their toes into their future careers. It can help to confirm interest in one field. Or, it can help to redirect interest to a new field.
During my four years in college, I was fortunate to have completed four summer internships. For two summers, I worked as an engineer for General Motors. For one, I worked at Westinghouse. And, for one semester, I taught photography at a Boys and Girls Club.
Each experience was valuable in its own way. They helped me to learn what I liked and didn’t like about companies. They helped me to learn what I was good at. And, they built up my resume, so that I could compete for better jobs when I graduated.
As an engineering student, internships are paid. Not only did I receive a respectable salary, but I also received relocation to Detroit and Pittsburgh.
When I moved on to business school, I wasn’t so lucky. While studying for my MBA, many of my classmates opted to take unpaid internships. I was shocked to know that this was even an option. But, the market was competitive so in order to get any internship, students had to be willing to work for free.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do this. I put myself through graduate school and I could not afford to work for months on end for free, while also living in Los Angeles. Instead of taking an internship, I opted to graduate early. Although things worked out, I do believe I would have benefitted greatly from an internship as I was transitioning from engineering into the business world.
This brings up a timely issue. If internships are an important part of any college education, why should they be unpaid? Sure, the company is helping to give the student an experience. They’re teaching them things. But, the students are also giving something in return. And, is it really right that students who cannot afford to work for free may be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs post-graduation?
Although internships have been significantly cut due to COVID, there is one bright spot. Most internships are virtual. This means that a student does not have to have the money to relocate to the city where the internship is. And, they can work for companies anywhere. So, despite that internships may be unpaid, the new virtual reality we’re all working in is helping to level the playing field.
If you’re thinking of hiring an intern, there’s no better time. Internships aren’t just for the summer. But, keep this in mind. You don’t have to pay a college student much in order for them to survive. But, paying a little will allow that student who is making their own way to have a shot at your job, and their future.
“He’s just not paying attention in meetings!” “She’s just not the same person right now.” “It’s like he doesn’t care anymore about his work!” “She missed her deadline.” These are all things people are saying about their colleagues right now.
I get it. You’re frustrated at work. Not everyone is carrying their weight in the same reliable way as they were before March of 2020. But, this is the thing. There is more going on behind that work from home computer screen than you know. The pandemic is not impacting everyone equally. It’s just not. And it is very likely that your coworkers will not feel comfortable to tell you just what’s going on in their personal lives.
For example, you may have one coworker who is trying to homeschool their children while maintaining their job. Another may be in poor health themselves, and they may not be able to venture outside for the things they need. Some people are dealing with aging parents who are homebound. Other colleagues may have family members who are dealing with terminal illness, while this is all going on. Some people have lost family members or friends and have been unable to grieve in the normal way. Single people have often been completely removed from other human beings for months, longing for real connection. And, some people have someone in their house who has COVID.
We tend to believe that hard work is the answer to everything. If you want to make your way to the top, you’ve got to climb. The best person should win. It’s a little like Darwin. But, really, we are facing a global pandemic. It’s worse than anything we’ve likely ever experienced in our lifetime, and on a massive, massive scale that is extending on for months.
People are struggling. They have good days. They have bad days. And, they have some very bad days. It doesn’t make the person less worthy of the job they had in February. And, I get it. We have to make money in order for businesses to stay in business.
This situation reminds me of growing up in Oklahoma. We had tornadoes; really big, destructive tornadoes. Sometimes, one would come through and tear up entire neighborhoods. People would be without homes, without water, and without power for days. The only way they survived was this: together. They pulled together, and together, they all made it out.
That’s what we have to do here. I know, it’s frustrating. It feels unfair when you have to do a little more work than normal. It’s upsetting when a coworker is late on something they promised you. It’s annoying when someone takes a day off for their mental health out of the blue.
But, this is the reality we’re living in. To make it out, we need to do it together. And, we need to do it with empathy for one another.
The unexpected pandemic of 2020 has decimated many jobs, and some industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment for June was at 11.1 percent. If you’re one of the millions of people who has been impacted at work by COVID, you are likely trying to decide what’s next. And, I don’t blame you. There is no clear end in sight at this point.
Very often, when someone decides it’s time to switch careers, the very first thing they think of is going back to college. It seems logical that you’d need a certain college degree to do a specific role. But, in many situations, this just isn’t the case. If you ask other people how they got into their line of work, you’ll often find a winding road that did not begin with the perfect degree.
Another reason it is assumed a certain degree is required relates back to the job description. When you search for a new job, the job descriptions you’ll find posted online are very specific. Fortunately, job descriptions are often a wish list of nice to haves rather than must haves.
Don’t get me wrong. There are certain fields, like medicine and law, where a very specific education is required. But, there are many more careers where the requirements are quite flexible.
Start by preparing a new resume. Google “functional resume format.” You’ll find a resume that is formatted based on what you know about, rather than which jobs you’ve had. Create a list of both hard skills and soft skills that are transferrable between different industries.
You would be surprised at how people skills at one job might translate into sales skills at another job. Or, how writing for a newspaper might translate to writing business requirements for a technology department. Now is the time to think outside of the box.
If you feel certain that new training is a must, look around for online options that are inexpensive. For example, Google recently announced that they are giving away 100,000 scholarships for online learning. The career certificates take approximately six months to complete and do not require previous experience.
Certificates are currently being offered for IT support specialists. In the future, Google also plans to offer certificates for data analysts, project managers, and user experience designers. The average salary for these roles ranges from $50,000 to $90,000 per year.
If you would like to be considered for one of the scholarships, start by Googling “Google Career Certificates.” Click the blue button that says, “Explore the IT Support Certificate.” Then, click the “Get started” button. You’ll find that the courses are available on Coursera, and although you will pay a monthly Coursera fee, the course itself should be free.
In this unstable and unexpected world of COVID, there is no better time to make a fresh start. A career pivot is never easy, but it’s almost always worth the effort.
I’ve heard from many people lately who are struggling to stay motivated at work – and for good reason. The pandemic is dragging on much longer than anyone hoped. Sometimes, it feels a bit like Gilligan’s Island. We thought we’d be working from home for a few weeks. Now, four months have gone by, and there’s no end in sight.
I’ve heard from people that are having a tough time keeping up their focus at work. They’re struggling to create routine. They feel distracted by the constant onslaught of difficult news. And, they feel disconnected from coworkers they normally see in person every day. Stress is up and productivity is down.
I know it’s tough, but if you are fortunate to be able to work from home (and you still have your job), you have to actively work to maintain your motivation level. The job market is awful today, and your current job will help to protect you from a potentially higher level of stress.
Maintaining your motivation begins with self-care. Regular sleep is critical. Then, try regular exercise in the form of walks. And, work to maintain your social connections. If you’re living alone, reach out to loved ones by phone or video. Others are also feeling lonely and many are open to connecting.
Then, work to create a daily routine, even if you don’t have to. Decide what time you want start and end work each day. Is there a time each day that’s best for meetings, lunch, more intense work, and breaks? You can divide this time up on your online calendar. Or, you can also create a breakdown using Excel, or a paper calendar.
If you’re feeling disconnected from your colleagues, think of new ways to connect. Perhaps you could try calling someone you work with out of the blue. Try chatting about normal things that may not be work related. You could also consider organizing group activities via video.
If the news is a major point of stress, you may want to set aside time to review the day’s news after work is complete each day. And, you may want to avoid checking social media during normal work hours.
My theory with all of this isn’t to ignore the important changes that are happening in the world. It comes from an observation that people are really struggling to keep a sense of normalcy. But, it’s that same sense of routine that will keep you on schedule and on task.
Staying on schedule will help to contribute to a more secure work situation. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t control everything. But, there are things you can control. You can influence your own motivation and focus each day. It won’t be perfect. You will stumble. There are days you may fail. But, you have to wake up each day and try. You owe it to yourself to try to maintain your motivation.
It’s becoming more and more common. While we’re stuck at home, corporate employees are starting to find alternative working locations. For some, it’s been their vacation home. For others, out of state family has been a good option. But, a third option is emerging.
Some employees are moving to a new city or state altogether. Just last week, I heard from a friend who is packing up and moving to a new, cheaper state. The pandemic is forcing employers to rethink their policies regarding where people must work. And, given the lower cost of living in smaller cities, employees can’t help but consider a move.
Cities are taking notice of this trend. There are a number of places in the middle of the country that are offering relocation bonuses to remote workers. These cities know that workers will bring tax dollars and spending into their economies. In order to attract remote workers, they’re offering incentive programs that range anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.
In my home state of Oklahoma, Tulsa is offering people $10,000 to move there. They’ll also throw in free desk space at Tulsa’s top coworking community, along with other perks. To be considered, you must be a remote worker who is able to relocate within six months, and be at least eighteen years old.
Alabama has a similar incentive program to remote workers. They are offering remote workers in the tech industry up to $10,000 to live in and work from The Shoals.
In Kansas, the Choose Topeka initiative is offering up to $15,000 to relocate to Topeka and the Shawnee County community. To qualify, you must purchase or rent a home within a year of your move.
The Choose Topeka website highlights that the average cost of a single family home in Topeka is $125,000 and the average monthly rent is $762. This is a huge difference from a place like San Francisco, where the average price of a home is over $1 million, according to Zillow.com.
If moving to a cheaper city has ever crossed your mind, the next year may be the time to try it. Start by searching online for remote jobs. You can do this on every major job site (LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor) by using the word “remote” in the spot where you normally specify city.
If you’ve been at your current job for a long time and have a good relationship with your boss, you may also want to consider asking if this is an option with your current role. Or, you may want to see what your company decides to do about going back. Some companies little Twitter have decided to allow employees to be remote forever.
As you can imagine, working from anywhere (especially when there’s a bonus involved) is a great new option. If you’ve ever thought of relocating, do research to find out if your favorite city is offering money for moving.