I'm an intern here at Fast Company this summer, doing anything I can to help out around the office while learning the ropes of magazine journalism. This is my first REAL office job — other summers in high school and college I traveled and even taught in a Harlem middle school. I am now beginning to reconsider the preconceptions I had about working in a real office building, logging in my hours, hearing grumbling about budgets and learning how the top people affect little ol' me. All of that happens, just like I imagined. But at FC, instead of being treated like a faceless gopher, everyone's really nice about teaching me along the way.
You never forget your early jobs. Every once in a while you'll see an E! True Hollywood Story or a VH1 Behind the Music and learn that a millionaire celebrity started out busing tables or working in a shrimp factory. I am lucky enough to start my more professional (albeit brief, as I will return to college in the fall) dabbling in an environment that I love, one that actually has something to do with what I see as my career.
For all of you who have children in high school or college, remind them how important it is for them to explore their passions when they have free time. Sure, it looks good on a resume, and these days that's more and more important. But it also allows an interest to grow, contacts to be made, and an incredible opportunity for learning. And its certainly more practical than folding napkins or asking "would you like that Super Sized?"
I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts on summer jobs. Young adults are told now that career exploration is important not for the experience but rather for the resume. Is this healthy? Do you have interns where you work? If so, do you think they will learn anything this summer other than how to pour the boss's coffee?