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Who should read this book?

If you are an intern, intern supervisor/employer, college career services professional, or government official, then Lies, Damned Lies & Internships is for you! Additionally, if you are a high school/college student, former intern, educator, parent, business owner, or simply want to see a change in the next generation of employees, you will want to read this book.

Why are internships so important?

Internships are the new rung on the ladder leading to the entry-level job. No longer can you graduate from college with little to no actual experience in your field and expect to land an entry-level job–you’ll likely have to complete at least one internship to get your foot in the door. Internships help students and professionals learn how to apply their knowledge and skills in real world situations. They also help build one’s professional network before (and after) graduation, and can introduce you to individuals who will help in your job search in the future.

What is your experience with internships?

I am an intern advocate. I was an intern five times (with five very different experiences) during college, and I am now a proud intern mentor at my own company, Come Recommended, LLC. I know first-hand how tough a bad internship can be, how rewarding a good internship is, and how important it is to teach interns, not simply put them to work.

What’s wrong with today’s internships?

The system is broken. Some current problems surrounding internship programs include the prevalence of full-time, unpaid opportunities; the negative connotation of the word “intern”; and employers replacing regular employees with interns. A few of the main problems could be attributed to the vague laws surrounding internship programs, which need to be changed in order to have a better handle on the industry. I’ve said before that full-time, unpaid opportunities should be illegal, and for-profit companies that can afford to pay their interns should do so. Interns also need to have the opportunity to work on real assignments and projects, which is a gray area right now in terms of the law.

Do “good” internships exist? What are the characteristics of a “good” internship?

Unfortunately, bad internship programs tend to get the most press. But there are great programs out there, too–you just need to know what to look for. In order to determine if an internship program is a good one, look at the following characteristics: mentorship, education, meaningful work, culture, recommendations, and networking opportunities. It shouldn’t matter if you intern at a “big name” company–startups and small businesses provide great experiences, too!

Why are internships causing such controversy in the media?

Everyone has their own take on what an internship should be like, which leads to debate. There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding internships in the last year or so. Particularly, unpaid and for-credit-only internships have taken a lot of heat because some employers aren’t committed to the education and mentorship that should be a key aspect of an internship program. This can be attributed to the fact that the laws surrounding internship programs don’t provide clear enough guidance for companies with internship programs, or that those laws aren’t really enforced.

How do you intend to change internships?

I want to see internships evolve into something from which both interns and businesses can benefit. We must change the legislation regulating internships, making them as fair as possible and accessible for more people. With this book, I hope to ignite action from businesses, universities, parents, legislators, and, of course, interns!

How can I take action?

Lies, Damned Lies & Internships is full of ideas and strategies to implement real change in the internship world. Business owners, create new internship opportunities and respect your interns by providing guidance, mentorship, and experience. Interns, be proactive! Research internship opportunities and communicate with your supervisors in order to make this the best experience for you and your organization. Don’t take a bad internship lying down; take control of your career! Join the conversation on Facebook to become part of the solution.

Where can I find Lies, Damned Lies & Internships?

Lies, Damned Lies & Internships is available for purchase and download at Happy About. Soon, the eBook also can be enjoyed on Kobo, Kindle, iPhone/iPad, Nook, and Google Books.

Heather R. HuhmanQ&A with Heather R. Huhman