Thursday, February 3, 2011

Internships, the Economy, and Egypt

We have for you today, a heartfelt message from Benay's President, Dawn Reshen-Doty:

Like most Americans, I’ve been glued to my TV in the evenings, watching the developments in Egypt.  There are many reasons for the unrest and the cry for political, social, and civil rights in Egypt but for the youth of that country, unemployment and the inability to find a job is high on the list of grievances.  Both in Egypt and here in the US, there’s great discussion of the affect that unemployment has on young people and society.  I am greatly concerned that so many recent college graduates here in the US are unable to find their first job or internship.

I remember with fondness my first job while at college, at a Japanese bookstore in Georgetown off Wisconsin Avenue, and then an internship at The White House.  When I graduated, I moved to Japan where my first job was teaching English for the Japanese government.  It pains me greatly to read about the difficulty our young people have today in finding a first job, or any job, as those experiences are the foundation of one’s entrée into adulthood and the business arena.

As an employer and entrepreneur I receive numerous resumes from young people, searching for their first job or internship.  Outside of my staff, many people may not know that I’m a big supporter of internships.  For many years now we’ve had summer interns, both at Benay and, for the past three years, at For Beginners.  Our For Beginners Managing Editor, Merrilee Warholak, started out with us twelve years ago as a Benay intern while completing her college degree.  This year we have two interns that are college graduates trying to fill out their resumes with employment experience while looking for their first real post-college jobs.  This winter we’ve started a paid internship program with Benay which provides three credits at Western Connecticut State University.  Our current intern works with me and our two bookkeepers, learning about bookkeeping, the pre-accounting work we do for our clients, and how businesses are run.
Yes, we’ve given many young people their first taste of the working world but we’ve received so much more back.  The energy, excitement, and enthusiasm that interns can bring to your organization are unbelievable.  I know that when the interns are in our office working side by side with us, we are more energized, more interested in examining and explaining exactly what we do and why, and we welcome the interns’ unexpected and sometimes very insightful questions.

I’m working very hard to be able to offer at least one of our interns full employment. We may not have enough work for a full time position today and it will mean more payroll, payroll taxes, benefits, etc.  It may even mean that we can’t afford to give raises to the rest of our staff this year because of the increase.  But I want to do it.  I have to do it.  

Why?  Because I truly feel that if every company in the US created one more job, offered employment to one more person, young or mature, we could and would be doing our part to pull the country and its people out of this economic slide.  So I ask you, I challenge you, to try and eke out one more job at your company for one more person. I know it’s hard but we need to do, person by person, job by job, and company by company.

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