My name is Vipin and I was recently underemployed!
For the past 4 months, I have been the most senior (age only) of interns here at Parse.ly. Before that, I was a graduate of a good university and wandered aimlessly in the so-called “Real World”. I didn’t know what subject to major in, so I did what any other person would do in my shoes…picked economics. Econ is a great, broad subject that surprisingly has a lot of great benefits. The biggest benefit? You learn value.
A couple of months out of college, and I found myself applying to any job that would take me because I had “value” to offer them. After what seemed like hundreds of interviews, I landed a role as a client development associate at a national healthcare staffing firm. I thought to myself, here is a place that needs the value I’m about to dish out, and so I took the position with a chest held high and tons of optimism. In all fairness to this employer, I should have done more research on the position before I blindly said “hell yeah”. As months went by, I realized I was adding value to this company but not receiving any of it back. Sure I was getting paid well, had medical benefits, and a 401K to utilize, but the job itself didn’t give me the satisfaction I was looking for. Three months into it, I did what every person around me told me not to do — I quit. With 3 months of experience as a telemarketer, my resume looked bleak and I thought my future would follow.
No longer with a chest held-high, I pondered my choice of major and career decisions. Then it hit me, I already knew my value (shout outs to my mom, dad, and Professor Garces for showing me what that value is: college-educated, tenacious, creative, and a risk-taker.) But given the lack of experience, I didn’t have many choices except starting from scratch. Being at the bottom of the business world, my only option was to become a lowly intern.
Except I was completely wrong about it being lowly! After searching for a bit I took an internship position with Parse.ly. An interesting option, as I first applied to Parse.ly to be their full-time account manager (hint: I didn’t get the job). But I built rapport with John, the marketing/sales director, and he kept in touch frequently, finally offering me a position as a business intern in May. I accepted the job knowing that I should be ready for a knowledge-rich ride and that there were no guarantees on employment after the 4 months were up. A risk? Yes, but a much more calculated one than my previous choice.
So I chose to be underemployed, and while I was the butt of many jokes amongst friends and family, I haven’t regretted it once. How am I not regretting taking a paycut and completely losing my benefits? Well because I took only a financial paycut, meaning I was being rewarded with knowledge on how to start and run my own business, making customers happy, and having an occasional beer with my superiors. So what I lost my medical benefits, I’m 22 and healthy as a horse…a horse that wheezes up the stairs in the morning because it likes to go drinking with other like-minded equines…but a healthy horse nonetheless.
After 4 months I have a few more lines of responsibilities and accomplishments on my resume, but a ton of great business experience. I made newsletters that were sent out to leaders in the digital publishing industry. I signed Parse.ly up for a “startups only” basketball tournament, and we did great. I ate lunch every Thursday with legends in the NYC tech community. I tweeted on behalf of the company. I wrote this blog post. These are things I never imagined a lowly intern would do, but guess what? Underemployment was the best thing that has ever happened to me and I couldn’t be more grateful.
I want to take this time to thank everyone at Parse.ly for giving me the opportunity to take risks and be rewarded beyond my wishes. I will take this experience with me to the next job, and every job after that. And for those of you who are in the shoes I was in over 4 months ago, I ask you this: does the word intern scare you because you’d rather be unemployed than be unhappy underemployed? If it does, then read this post, change your thought process, and garnish your career with knowledge the “regularly-employed” wish they had.