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For a Working Transition From College, Try an Internship

By Mary Ellen Slayter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 21, 2004; Page K01

Graduation is just a few months away. Four years of night-long study sessions -- and weekend-long parties -- are about to end. After several years of being broke and living in tiny dorm rooms, I bet you just can't wait to transition into your first real live . . . internship.

You didn't really think they were going to hire you to run the place fresh out of school, did you? Ha. You're lucky if they are willing to "hire" you at all. Internships have become a fact of modern work life, with even experienced workers slogging through them when they switch careers.

Here are answers to a few basic questions about making the transition through professional post-adolescence.

Q What is

an internship?

AIt's a (preferably brief) training period for someone breaking into a new profession.

Why would I want one?

It solves the age-old conundrum of how to get a job when you don't have any experience, when all the jobs being offered require experience. Many employers hire their best interns, or they steer them to jobs elsewhere.

Will they pay me?

Maybe. Many internships in "glamorous" careers such as publishing, music and broadcasting don't pay. Minimum-wage laws don't apply because internships are supposed to be for the benefit of the worker, not the employer. Tell that to the intern whose skin has turned sallow after a summer serving as a glorified temp in front of the copy machine.

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