President of the Business Builders Club gives advice about how to navigate the internship and career search.
“As students we’re always told, ‘Stay in your lane,’ or ‘This is where you are in your life, so this is where you need to be,’ and there are so few of us who continue to push ourselves forward.” — Jack Hutchinson, president of the Business Builders Club.
To sophomore Hutchinson, there is a clear distinction between drive and ego, and the people who land the best internships are the ones who are the most inspired and motivated to succeed there, or the ones who have the most drive for what they do.
The Business Builders Club at Ohio State holds bi-weekly workshops with CEO’s and small business owners in and outside of Columbus to have “candid conversations” with students. This year alone, the club launched their first Startup Career Fair that registered a total of 37 startup companies and drew in 500 undergraduate students.
“The organization itself is about 100 members and we’re open to all majors, not just business. One of the other things that we have is a job portal,” Hutchinson explained. “One of the perks of being a member is the ability to engage with our job pool. We will get anybody connected, no problem.”
So, with graduation around the corner and adulthood on the horizon, we asked Jack about life after college as well as how to navigate the waters of landing an internship while still in school.
If I don’t get into a summer internship by the end of April, is it too late to find another one?
Absolutely not! Large organizations want to hire 4-5 months in advance, so their application process starts a little under a year in advance, but if you don’t receive the response you want by April, try something new! Startups are looking for someone tomorrow, they have positions open today. If you can contribute something to the team, they’re going to bring you on no matter what the timing. It’s typically only 1-2, maybe 3 people making the decision about bringing a new team member in. It’s only too late if you give up.
Should I take an unpaid internship in a field that fits my major, or work to earn money in a job (not a career)?
I know there are majors where you need that hands-on experience, and typically that experience in unpaid. But for business students and engineers or otherwise, you should not take an unpaid internship. At the end of the day you need to understand the true value of your time. As students, people ask a lot of us; they think we’re cheap labor, free labor, but the reality is typically we’re the ones who have the most current information from the classroom. Those skill sets and perspectives are extremely valuable to corporations. So no, I don’t believe in working for free. Last summer I had the opportunity to work for a local Shark Tank company, and the initial offer I received was to work for them unpaid. I said, “Absolutely not, I know I can contribute more to your team, you’re going to work me like a dog,” which they did and I was ready to work like a dog, I’m very fortunate for that opportunity, but I negotiated my pay and ended up getting $12/hour and 10% on commission on all sales I made. Nothing crazy, but never work for somebody for free.
Can I just travel?
In a lot of European and Asian countries, taking what’s called a “gap year” is pretty standard. You have that degree in hand, you have that experience, you’ve proven that you’re qualified, and if that right position hasn’t opened up for you at that point in time, you haven’t gotten that dream offer, it’s okay to take some time for yourself. You just put four years of work into your major. It’s okay every once in a while to relax, take a step back, and take some you-time. If it’s the right decision for you, you’re financially set up for it, and you’re not passing up another opportunity, why not?
What do I tell an employer when they ask me what my base pay/salary should be?
Just feel it out. There are sites online (Glassdoor.com is a great place) where you can look to see what’s appropriate within that company’s culture: Do your research. If you don’t research, you’re going in blind. You’re pretty much shooting yourself in the foot…. That said, there are certain groups and entities where it’s just not appropriate to negotiate as a result of the packages you’re being given or the position that you’re applying to. It could cost you your job in certain scenarios, so that’s something you’re going to have to judge yourself.
What can I do outside of work to develop professionally so I don’t end up in my small town back at home?
Regardless of where you work, there’s going to be an opportunity to connect with people, talk with people, and understand their background. You never know who you’re going to come across. Even if you’re from middle-of-nowhere Ohio, the founder of Victoria’s Secret could be driving through that day and may decide he needs an ice cream at your ice cream shop. If you don’t take the time to engage with that person and you just go through the motions of your job, you’ve missed out on a phenomenal opportunity. Although you may feel like there’s not much opportunity to be had in your current situation, always be looking for more. Be the best at what you do! If you’re the best ice cream scooper in that town, and you do it with the best smile and the best customer service and you ring people up the fastest, whatever it is, just be the best. If you’re not pushing yourself, you’re losing. Somebody will beat you out. But if you do it with passion and with pride, that resonates with a lot of people.
If you’re interested in connecting with startups or joining the Business Builders Club, email Jack Hutchinson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Luke Peddemors (email@example.com). Or visit the Business Builders Club website, businessbuildersclub.org.