September 7, 2009

Laboring over what's next

So, how's your Labor Day? It's not a very happy holiday for most in Michigan, where an AP report says the state will lose its one millionth job early next year. To be fair, most of the article focuses on how the state is turning to entrepreneurs to create new jobs. There's even a couple of Flint businesses mentioned and the University of Michigan-Flint program that helped.

The family broke tradition and celebrated Labor Day a day early this year. We did it so some of us could rest up for the upcoming move to Tennessee. Add in another stop to see doctors who want to make sure my daughter is healing well enough to move on. (I think the doctors face a losing battle there - my daughter wants to return to work NOW.)

I get that work ethic. I'm still struggling with being jobless at age 55 even as my head knows many dream of early retirement, even as I can dream of possibilities.

A local organization is looking for someone with a passion for graphic or web design or playing with a digital camera ... someone who wants to work with the mission in the communications department.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity for someone who has created or managed at least 45 web sites and discussion boards, tweeted, blogged, Facebook'd, etc. But despite the offer of a cubicle and cake on Fridays, I haven't jumped at this chance. I would volunteer, but the organization prefers interns.

I've been struggling with why I'm uncomfortable applying for an internship but am willing to volunteer.

I think internships can be a great way to add to your resume and I admired the laid-off TVGuide editor who became an unpaid intern at, the Women on the Web site aimed at those over 40. She wanted to learn some new media skills. I like the WOW program even.

I know I would learn some new things. And, since I am willing to work for free as a volunteer, it certainly isn''t the pay that stops me from applying for the internship.

A post by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who learned unpaid interns are illegal. helped clear up some of my confusion.

Cuban wanted to "assemble a group of unpaid interns that would acquire video, write game reports, track unique stats, do interviews, interact with fans, and then compile all of this incremental media and provide it free to any and every outlet."

But his human resource department discovered U.S. Labor Department guidelines say unpaid interns can not provide anything of value to a company. There's more on Cuban's post, much of what seems to come from this blog post. I can't make the pdf link work or find the specific rules outlawing unpaid internships on the labor department site.

Still perhaps that's my problem - I want to provide value, not make some employee's job harder.

Or is it that I still equate value with a paycheck, unwilling to believe on some level that 40 plus years of earnings clears the way to explore another way of living.

Or perhaps I'm still in search of what it is that I'm supposed to do with this life that has not gone the way I planned. With my daughter's move out and on, the unexpected caretaker role is over.

Let me leave with you three happier links, proof that social media can indeed help you get a job:
Plus, Shawn Smith ended his three-month avoidance of New Media Bytes by sharing how to determine your next move in this time of furloughs, layoffs and paycuts. (Shawn left his senior producer job at to become a self-employed entrepreneur on June 5.)

I'm off resting, supervising, resting, surprising, driving and resting.


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