It’s summer time and I can remember the challenge of getting that college summer job to earn some beer money.  Times have changed and now college students face the task of finding internships to gain experience for their future career.

My summer jobs were pretty cushy.  I worked at a movie theater, ate a lot of popcorn, and saw every movie 10 times.  Even with a cushy job, I was envious of friends that landed the fun jobs working as a camp counselors or life guards for one of the swanky New England summer camps.  But then again, I had it better than my fellow students who were working behind the fryer at McDonalds.

Now-a-days, the McDonalds’ fryer is staffed by a career fast-food “professional” and camp counselors are often school teachers looking for summer employment.   Times have changed and so have summer jobs.  Summer jobs now address the classic problem of new graduates “work experience”.  In many cases the old corporate training program for new graduates has been dropped and replaced with an internship program.  These programs are just as competitive as landing that first job and normally require a similar interview/application process.

Like summer jobs, internships can be cushy or as miserable as standing over a hot fryer all day.  Some internships are stepping stones to more advanced and prestigious internships.  Others are direct entrées into a future position.  Regardless of good, bad, cushy or hard, without completing an internship, new graduates are at a distinct disadvantage.

Every summer I take on a couple of interns.  After the first few years, word of mouth spread along the college grapevine about our program, and now students court us.  Our little firm does not have the clout, structure or resources of the brand name financial institutions. Still, our interns get broad exposure to the financial world in addition to my daily “how life works” talks.

I take on summer interns because I enjoy it.  It is a way to give back.  For me, working is not about making money but about making life better.  Money most certainly makes life better but it is not all encompassing.  Part of making life better is enrichment.  Enrichment of our working lives comes in many forms; for example: improving a product, learning a new skill or successfully accomplishing a challenging task.  But What is regularly overlooked is “giving-back.”  We normally think of our jobs as “you put time in and get money out.”  But, you can also put time in and get fulfillment out.  And, there is a time in most people’s lives where fulfillment has more value than money.  So, if you have been dragging to work lately, think about fulfillment instead of money. You may find that you enjoy walking through the doors every morning.