Do I mention Steve Jobs too often in this column?
Apologies if I do. But let me assure readers that this is not a sinister scheme to curry favour with the company that makes those most delectable devices. It is not like I have to deal with them where I get a device or gift voucher per mention.
(Imagine if journalists got discounts every time they mentioned a brand in one of their columns. Contrary to what you think, this would liberate journalists to write hard-hitting stories without fear:
‘Notional losses from 2G could be enough to buy 140,000 notional Lamborghini Superleggeras: An exclusive report by our Staff Reporter Amit ‘Toblerone’ Mishra.”)
One day this will happen. Moet and Chandon.
Also Read Sidin Vadukut’s earlier columns
Today, I bring Jobs up with reference to a presentation he recently made to the Cupertino city council. The company is headquartered in Cupertino, California and now plans to build a massive new headquarters on 150 acres of apricot orchards. In order to hasten the local approvals process, Jobs decided to present their plans to the council himself.
Some of the land the company owns, he said, once belonged to Hewlett-Packard (H-P). At that point, Jobs wistfully recounted an incident from his childhood. When he was 12 years old Job decided to build frequency counters, a device used to measure pulses in an electronic signal. In order to get parts to make the device, he picked up the phone and simply asked William Hewlett of H-P for help. He got the number out of a phone book. Smitten, Hewlett not only gave him the parts, but also gave him a summer job at H-P.
You could still see the delight in Job’s face when he talked about his summer job.
Even though I tend to poke fun at interns occasionally in this column, I am a firm believer in the many benefits of the internship or summer job. Provided, of course, that everyone takes it in the right spirit.
I don’t think many people do.
Around a year ago I hired an intern who wanted to desperately break into the media business. At the time he was working as a data analyst for a consulting firm. But his writing samples weren’t half bad. So I told him to come on board and paid him a small monthly stipend as well.
Now mind you, the idea wasn’t to make him take photocopies, make coffee or coordinate meetings. At least 50% of his job in the beginning was to talk to people and write stories. The rest was to help us with the newspaper’s website.
A month later he left and joined another newspaper having filed a grand total of two blog posts for us. He was switching, he said, because the other place was offering him more money and promised to give him a regular beat to cover.
I was irritated (30%) and flabbergasted (70%). He had just begun to see the benefit in using adverbs and exclamation marks with a modicum of self-control. Also when was this ever about money?
At this juncture, let me say that I have no respect for those companies that employ interns or trainees to keep costs down. Sometimes the only person you see in a hotel lobby or in an airplane cockpit is someone with a badge that says things like ‘trainee’, ‘intern’ or ‘license faker’.
So then what are summer jobs and internships really about? I am sure you will have your opinion about this kind of thing—and you should send an email— but in my book the idea is to get to grips with employment in general and certain sectors in particular. The idea is not to always manipulate it into a full-time job.
And most certainly not to make a living off it.
Instead it is a good chance to spend sometime getting to know how a business, organization and the general chicanery of salaried employment work. You might want to come back as an employee later. Or not.
Whatever it is, the idea is to keep mouth shut, and eyes and ears open.
I have had the privilege of doing four summer jobs with three organizations so far. Due to my Malayali background three of those were in the United Arab Emirates. And the last one was with a pharmaceutical supplies company in Mumbai.
In Abu Dhabi, I worked with a pressure vessel manufacturer twice, and once I worked at a materials testing lab in Dubai. Those three jobs were fun, interesting, technically challenging and I didn’t get a single dirham.
The last one paid me some money and I got to travel a bit, but most of all it prepared me for the bizarre nature of most management-type jobs.
I wish more people would take up summer jobs with an open mind and wallet.
In conclusion this is a brief list of things I learnt through my four jobs:
1.Almost 80% of a job is mindless repetition. What you need to figure out is if the remaining 20% makes the whole thing worthwhile.
2.Person is secondary to paperwork.
3.KEEP EVERY FREAKING HOTEL BILL AND BOARDING PASS!
4.Try something else. Just in case.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com