Due to the competitive nature of finding a job, students are at times subjected to unreasonable internship work environments. As students, we may not realize how valuable we are and find ourselves in positions that we are advised to avoid. I interned at a startup product marketing and public relations company where I learned a lot, but the organization valued quantity over quality. The company handled nearly 60 client accounts and aimed to reach 100 by the end of the year. However, nearly all of the public relations was handled by unpaid interns. When they contracted new clients that they could not handle, they would hire more interns instead of hiring an experienced publicist.
Three months into my internship, I was offered a job with the company. After careful thought and consideration, I graciously declined the position. They had let people go in the past who did not produce at a high rate while handling 20–30 client accounts. As a student, I knew I couldn’t dedicate the necessary time to handle such an undertaking. People in the office didn’t think I made the right decision and urged me to take the job. “You don’t believe in yourself,” one person said. But I stood my ground and stayed true to what I believed was right. I do believe in myself. Just because a company offers you a paid position, we as students should not feel obligated to take it.
I remembered what a mentor of mine told me: “Know your worth.” The company attempted to recruit me for a discounted rate because of my lack of experience. Like their business model, they offered their services for a very low price and promised clients first-rate results, but I didn’t want to discount my work to continue in this particular work environment.
Upon completing my last day in the office, I reminded the other interns to learn as much as they could, gain material for their portfolios and to remember their worth. Many people who worked there have since left for the same reasons I did and said that my advice inspired them to pursue different opportunities.
It’s necessary as a student to feed your passions and build a network in order to better prepare for a more successful career. According to PR News, a Department of Labor study showed that employment for public relations specialists is projected to grow by 23 percent between 2010 and 2020, with more than 58,000 jobs opening up. As long as you love what you do, dedicate your time and never give up, there will be more opportunities in the future. Don’t ever settle.
Are students subjected to circumstances that put their worth on the line for the sake of landing a job?
Joel Paramo is a senior at California State University, Northridge and is completing his degree in journalism with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in sociology. He currently holds the title of director of public relations for the university’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Follow him at @JoelParamo.