There are so many straw-men built and knocked over in this blog. Most entrepreneurs work for free for the first couple years – or at least it feels that way. That’s not our desire, but we trade our freedom today for a better freedom tomorrow. You do have to give up to go up and we’re trading the good for the great.

We no longer have the Apprentice system (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master) – though some of the trades do it. It’s a good system. You pay to go to college to learn, why not work for free to learn (it doesn’t cost as much!). The intern needs to have a better methodology for getting what they need. The purpose behind being an intern is to gain specific hands on knowledge in their field of endeavor (or interest).

  1. Don’t take just anything that comes along – do your homework. Determine what company you want to work for and go apply (as an intern). Believe it or not, there are other companies out there – don’t be lazy – do the homework.
  2. Go to the company that has a Level 5 leader so you know you will get the best and most growing experience. You don’t have to work for anybody – there is life after your current position/company/internship.
  3. Write out what you are specifically looking to gain. Define what success looks like to you. Talk with the company and make sure it is mutually beneficial for BOTH of you. If not, don’t take the internship. If they lie to you – leave and tell them why. Nobody’s keeping you there. Do the homework!
  4. Fail Forward. Stop being a victim. You make choices. Make the right ones. If not, make another one fast and turn your wrong choice into a right choice.
  5. For your other leaders and CEOs out there – develop intern programs that highly benefit the intern as well as the company. Add value to your intern. They may be awesome and if you treat them badly, you won’t gain their employment in the future – or any of their friends and everybody they tell on facebook, twitter, and the rest of the world. Add value to people all day – including your interns.

It doesn’t have to be a “buyers (employers)” market – it should be a sellers (intern) market. Negotiate – don’t just accept everything that someone else wants. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” You don’t have to be great to start – but you do have to start to be great.

If you work it right, you will gain a million dollars from your experience because you will use that which you learn in your internship to make yourself worth a million dollars.