Hiring practices

I was telling Sveinn, a guy who has been volunteering at the museum (while on atvinnuleysibætur and I who I hope we can hire), about hiring practices in the U.S.

As I have mentioned before, there is considerable difference in this regard between the U.S. and Iceland. Since I have started working here in Iceland, there has been the general assumption from lots of people in town that it is just plain "weird" that I am here. I have surmised that usually, in Iceland, a job like mine would go to someone who knows/is connected to someone in power, and that the appointment to the job would have only a rough correspondence to actual skills, background, or experience. Now of course everyone says this is changing, but there are lots of little pockets where this has not changed at all or not much, and plenty of Icelanders know that, such that they rather expect it to be the case for everyone.

In the United States, hiring practices are different. There are lots of legal requirements and lawsuits that would make the Icelandic system completely out of the question in the U.S.

Instead, one sends in a job application to a nameless, faceless Human Resource staff person, and hopes that one's application will rise to the top of a huge pile of applicants, through a process of calculated evaluation of strengths and weaknesses by a neutral professional.

But there is actually in the U.S. a really wonderful hiring practice that helps find a middle route between appointing only those people we have known since childhood versus treating human beings like inanimate cogs in a machine that either fit or not.

That process is called an internship.

An internship is when a student eager to break into a field agrees to work for a company for free. Sometimes, they get a very nominal payment from some sort of fund, but other times they actually pay their school for the service of arranging appropriate internships. Internships are formally applied for, and sometimes the standards are very vigorous. It is a rather formal arrangement, with an agreed upon start date and end date. The intern is given discreet responsibility, neither too much nor too little, and a mentor who oversees their work. It is a great opportunity for management to get to see exactly what kind of worker someone is.

At the end of an internship, an employer is free to offer the intern a job, or sometimes the intern lists an internship on their resume when they apply for a job later, as a good way to demonstrate that actually people in the company are familiar with them.

When they get hired, it is clear that they were not so well known as to seem suspicious, but nor were they strangers either. It is the best of both worlds.

I told Sveinn to think of himself as our intern.


Anonymous said…
Að tala um intenr eða internship við íslendinga er eins og að segja eitthvað dónalegt, við tengjum þetta bara við ákveðið atvik með forseta nokkrum fyrir einhverjum árum.
Lissy said…
Haha, I was an intern at the Smithsonian at the same time that Ms. Monica was an intern at the White House. Having misunderstood and abused her internship, she is now sewing purses for a living. I believe I utilized my internship to better ends.

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