Monday, August 4, 2008

Internships, Jobs and Careers: Bravo TV’s FLIPPING OUT Jeff Lewis Rants About Entitlement

My younger daughter showed me a brief segment of episode “Tapped Out” of season 2 of Bravo TV’s series FLIPPING OUT ( She wanted me to hear Jeff Lewis – the “obsessive-compulsive house flipper” in LA whom the show follows – talk about his new assistant Chris.

Chris is changing careers and hopes to become a project manager under Jeff. And you know that I often write about the need to take an internship to try out a new career. But Chris is getting paid to try out this new career – and, unfortunately, he has a problem.

Chris unrealistically expects to be a project manager in six months. Jeff informs the camera that he’s been doing this for 20 years. And if everyone could change careers after three weeks on a new job, Jeff would be an astronaut in three weeks.

Jeff is actually hitting on a major problem with young people today – the feeling of entitlement. This is a feeling that everything is due you without any effort or work on your part. And I know that Jeff’s assistant isn’t an isolated case. My cousin who works at a large computer company has complained to me about the entitlement attitude of the interns with whom he works.

How do you know if you are exhibiting this behavior? One clue might be if you say or mutter negative things when asked to make copies of something or to pick up an envelope from the receptionist.

Another clue might be always demanding to do things that you haven’t yet learned how to do well or even been shown how a company wants that task done.

The expression “everyone has to pay his/her dues” is a good one to remember for young people starting out on their own career paths. Or another good expression might be “you have to crawl before you walk.”

For example, although my uncle was chairman of a national food service company, my cousin with a degree from Wharton started out as a cook at one of the food service contracts. For his whole first year of marriage he left the house at the crack of dawn, leaving a good-morning note for his bride. But it was important to learn the business from the bottom up as he rose up the ranks.

The next time someone asks you to copy papers – don’t pout or raise your eyebrows or look annoyed. Instead, smile and eagerly fulfill the task. First, you might learn something from the papers that you’re copying. Second, you’ll be appreciated much more than another new hire who does pout.

Entitlement only comes when you have paid your dues and then some.

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