x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Teen Life: Have degree but no experience? Internships are the only way out

It's scary that the race for landing unpaid internships has started in high school, and we are all expected to have work experience under our belts already.

Teenhood is little but a glorified rat-race. People grumble about "kids having it easy these days", but there's a lot we have to battle for - class ranks, university places, attention. When we venture out to get jobs, though, there probably won't be enough to go around for all the graduate students who have degrees but no experience.

It's scary that the race for landing unpaid internships has started in high school, and we are all expected to have work experience under our belts already. Seventeen-year-olds I know have landed internships at places such as The Economist, Rolls-Royce, CERNand the Max Planck Institute of Physics. These are the sort of nauseatingly brilliant wunderkinds we will be up against when it's time to support ourselves.

We've just had a pleasant day out watching Shawn Levy's The Internship, in fact. It's a feelgood flick about two old guys (OK, they're probably only in their 30s) who are out of work and bluff their way into getting internships at Google. It's considered to be one of the best places to work in the world, and I can see why from the movie. Nap pods? Free refreshments? A giant slide instead of lifts and escalators? Yes, please.

The interns must form teams, with the best-performing team getting jobs at the end of the internship. Our heroes are unsurprisingly teamed up with the underdogs nobody else wants - people like the awkward Cosplay-obsessed Indian girl who loosens up by the end, and the Chinese boy who yanks out his eyebrows, but finally stands up to his mother. The baddy loses out and the uptight head honcho turns out to be a softy after all. Utterly predictable, no subtle layering or flawed anti-heroes, but still a pleasure to watch.

The movie served up straightforward laughs and didn't tax you, which was a relief. I am tired of films that make you think and analyse, as if you are in a media-studies lesson.

While watching it, perhaps we should have paid more attention to learning about what accomplishments you need to garner to get work in a well-paying corporation. It's time we began to prep for that daunting thing, our future. So much for that, although we did have a detailed and thought-provoking discussion on whether Dylan O'Brien was better-looking than Owen Wilson.

A stint at Google would have certainly strengthened the characters' CVs, but there was nevertheless no guarantee of a job later for most of the interns. Internships are nothing but working for someone for free, after all. In April, the UK government's decision to refer 100 companies for investigation made headlines - the companies weren't giving their interns a salary for their hard work.

The law is set to encourage employers to pay interns, which will work well in theory if the intern does have skills that can be put to use. I just hope that discouraging unpaid internships won't make it too hard to get any work experience at all - or opportunities to land someone like Dylan O'Brien as a fellow intern.


Lavanya Malhotra is a 17-year-old student in Dubai

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