Monday, January 10, 2011

The Internship Dilemma: To check that or to not?

Since January 3rd, I've been interning at Charlottesville Community Design Center (CCDC). It honestly has been the ideal internship. I am gaining design experience by designing a promotional brochure for CCDC, which will be sent to potential donors, volunteers, and board members. Mandy Burbage, my supervisor, has been heavenly, laid back, and very supportive. CCDC is large, airy, and quite beautiful. I have loads of freedom to design, research, and check facebook (for inspiration, of course!).

As a prime member of the multi-tasking generation of Millenials, I've also been searching for summer internships, updating my resume, coding my personal website, checking my online banking account, replying back to hosts of emails, adding contacts on LinkedIn, experimenting with Photoshop, and teaching myself PHP. Did I mention that I also check facebook at least five times a day? Casually, of course.

Here I am at one of the best (unpaid) internships I could ask for, and yet I am still doing other things. While I feel a little guilty about all of the things mentioned above, as I feel now, I would still feel extremely indignant if facebook was blocked, my computer was monitored, and my screen was public. This amazes me. Where is my work ethic and where am I drawing the line? (A rhetorical, academic question, I assure you.)

If I look at it from a productivity point of view, I am being extremely productive. I am not watching movies online during work, or worse, watching porn. I am doing things that will have tangible benefits later on (preferably money). However, if I look at it from the point of view of traditional work ethics, my behavior could be seen as unethical. Of course, another factor to it is that I am not being paid for my time.

Yet, I also want to point out the accessibility of all of the earlier mentioned things. Checking my HSBC bank account only takes three minutes, and searching for summer internships does not involve a trip to an office but a click away. There are hosts of sites that teach PHP, one of which is PHP 101, and they save me a trip to the library. So while it may seem like I am spending all of my time doing other work, in actuality it might add up to only a couple of hours. This goes back to the point of productivity. I know that designing might take only a couple of days out of the two weeks that I am interning. So if I am doing other things because I can quickly, am I... bored?

Truthfully I do not know the answer to all of these questions, but I do know that other Millenials are facing the same questions and that as a generation, we will have a serious influence on the way the workforce works. Or perhaps we'll quietly assimilate to it. Who knows?

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