Oldtime gangsters used the phrase “making your bones” to mean that in order to earn your way into the Mafia, you had to do something nasty.

Today, for interns in summer jobs, you are making your own bones by working at far less pay than normal and in exceptionally trying circumstances.  Often, companies bend over backwards to create a job for you, the intern…most of us know what it is like to find a career area that you are passionate about, but lack the experience to find a job.

“Come back after you have had some experience,” they say.  We say,” how do I get that experience?”  It is called internships.

Like the gangsters, these jobs can be quite nasty.  You are expected to work like a full time employee, often for NO pay, or if you are being paid, for a minimum wage.  Is the experience really worth it?  It all depends.

If you can see a clear way to leverage the internship into a full time job, in an area that is difficult to break into, sure.  I have a friend, actually a friend of my daughter’s who wanted to work in television, actually in television NEWS.  She was a recent college graduate, didn’t even study TV and Radio in college…but still…she had what used to be called “gumption.”  Through a friend of a friend, she wrangled an UNPAID internship at a major (Major) network.  She worked hard, never complained, did great work and after a year became an assistant producer to a nationally known news person…she books, interviews the people he interviews on-air.  She is 25.  I’d say that internship paid off.

I think the key in internships is to pick them right.  Make sure you are working for someone who you will learn from and who has enough industry contacts to help you get that job after.  If you can’t afford to work for free, explain that fact, and let them know that you will be willing to trade some compensation for the experience…but that you still need to live and eat.  Most people will give you something-$$.

Then, once you are in the job, work hard…have I said that before?…it is that important.  And, do the jobs that no one else wants to do.  This is the fastest way to earn your bones.