Happy Tuesday #Jontourage,
Welcome back to the “Classy Gent Chronicles”, where staying classy is the only way to be. Let's jump right into it....
As a published author, I wanted to expand my brand while giving someone else an opportunity to enhance their skills. I decided that I would start an internship program that highlighted the needs of my growing business. You don’t realize the importance of a team until your business grows and you have to do everything by yourself. I started out with two interns who did some pretty amazing things. My internship program was growing beautifully and I was excited for the next wave of interns to start. I did something different for the third intern I hired. For the sake of confidentiality, we shall call him Jared. He was a student of mine who my spirit told me to give an opportunity to. I knew Jared was coming to the table with much to learn but hey that’s what internships are for. Compared to the previous wave of interns I had, he had the least amount of experience but I figured this would be a great place for him to start. I also explained to him how beneficial a position like this can be because I have big plans for my book and my career. Internships turn into full time jobs everyday...
One cool thing I also do with my internship program is that interns have the opportunity to earn commission based on deals they secure. So for example, if an intern secures me a paid $5000 appearance at a conference, book signing, etc. , then the intern would get a percentage of the $5000. While my internship program is not a sales-based internship, I thought it would only be fair to reward them with something they set up. A new author makes his money usually one of two ways, book signings/talks or book sales. I don’t want to be known as one of those people who go on to be rich off of the sweat of others and don’t properly give credit. I have never been a fan of that trait in others so I promised myself I would always give credit where credit is due.
So nonetheless times goes on and Jared’s productivity becomes less than ideal. When someone had a conversation with him about why he stopped doing what he was supposed to do, it came out and got back to me that because he was not being paid, it must not be that important to get done. That did not sit well with me and I will give you three reasons why:
#1- The internship was advertised (and always has been advertised) as an unpaid internship. I am not one who believes in scamming people because I don’t like being scammed. The second line of my job description on all my internship descriptions list them as unpaid. Simple and proper research would have allowed you to read you would not be getting paid. If you wanted an opportunity that paid, you should have sought one. That’s like me taking a job that requires me to wear an apron then getting mad I have to wear an apron after I get the job.
#2- Demanding a lot of money for a position that you were still growing in becomes slightly unrealistic for you. Salary is mainly determined by the education, skills, work experience needed for a candidate to successful do the job. When Jared was hired, he was being taught the necessary skills needed to thrive in the position, still working towards the education and had no related work experience to the field. Keywords being “taught the necessary skills” not “already hired knowing”. Delayed gratification is the concept of working with the awareness that your reward comes down the road, not always immediately.
#3- If you are not even completing the tasks expected of you, how can you even negotiate getting money? Does a child that doesn’t finish their first plate get seconds? I didn’t think so. If any intern that bust their butt in the positions wants to discuss compensations or pitch some ideas on changes for the internship structure, I am always willing to have that conversation.
Consequently, Jared the intern was let go. Although it was for his best interest, it’s a shame that he couldn’t see the value in the opportunity presented to him. He was so busy looking for a check, he overlooked the fact that he could have been one of the assistants of a future best-selling author. This is not me saying this with the intent to be arrogant but I believe in myself and I know where I plan to go with this. I didn’t write a book with the hopes to be average neither in the quality of my product or in my effort to sell the book. A businessman with determination, confidence and the right network is often never poor.
My previous intern was the exact opposite, he took every opportunity given to him and knocked it out the park. For that, my previous intern was guaranteed a job in the future. What it comes down to is do you believe in those around you to help them build their dream? There are several wives that have helped their husbands build their now million dollar business. She did it because she believed in him and now she is seeing the financial benefit.
Why does today’s generation struggle with the concept delayed gratification? I want them to be able to understand that everything you do won’t come with an award or a check but that doesn’t make it not worth your time. I had another student who was offered the opportunity to work with an up and coming R&B group and the student turned it down after finding out it wasn’t paid. The young man didn’t even attend the info session because in his mind, once he heard “unpaid”, it became worthless. Kids and teens, if you spend your life chasing a check, you will be bouncing from one low paying job to the next. The other benefit a job can offer you like great health insurance, money towards college, child care expenses and more. If you just look and make your decision on a dollar amount, your priorities are jacked up.
Some of my greatest life lessons came from volunteering and just being next to someone with infinite wisdom. For example, I was volunteering at a soup kitchen in Washington, DC where a lady who was an employee reminded me and all the volunteers that we were all one check away from homelessness. It is easy to assume that could never be us but anything can happen.
Surprisingly enough to some, I did not work my first job until I was 19 years old as a Resident Assistant in college. It was my several hundred hours of volunteering and participation in after school clubs that got me the job. That moment was the perfect confirmation that companies are interested in your skills and your mindset not always just previous paid work experience.
Moral of the story: Money comes and goes but the real value is in memories, mentorship, and tangible skills. Never turn your nose up at an opportunity the next time you see “unpaid”. Remember, Fonzworth Bentley started out as the assistant to P. Diddy. Remember you gotta start somewhere….
Remember, in order to live out your dreams, you have to think it, feel it, live it! Until next time, stay classy...
Jonathan C. Harris is no stranger to leadership, hard work, or success. At the age of ten years old, he earned the right to be a guest weatherman for a day on Fox 5 DC News. He has already received over 100 honors and awards including Forty Under 40 for Prince George’s County, MD, TEDx Talk speaker, American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Outstanding Men’s Program, high school Valedictorian and the Kiwanis Club Citizenship Award. Raised in Fort Washington, Maryland, he has served in leadership positions his entire life, from being the manager of the school store in elementary school to the president of the Homelessness Awareness Club in middle school to the president of the National Honor Society in high school.