No Filing Please: College Students in the Work Force

Our parents tell us we can do anything. Our boss says "file this, please." So how's a generation full of overachieving students going to meld with the work force?

I don't have to tell you that getting into a good college is getting harder. My freshman year at Stanford, I discovered that my neighboring room contained a debate champion and someone featured in Teen People -- this was not unusual. Students need to be enterprising, self-motivated, and creative just to be considered.

One of my friends got an internship at a big-deal law firm in New York City. He was excited going into the summer to get a chance to do real work and to figure out if he wanted to be a lawyer. During the summer I asked him how it was going. His response? "I file all day." Let's just say he felt his time was being underutilized.

So what happens when students used to being at the top get a job at the bottom? Students used to changing the world are getting coffee. Is this a rite of passage or a waste of resources? Obviously I'm biased, I'm 20 and I want to have internships where I can do more than file. I have a suggestion for the bosses of college interns: give us a chance and I bet you'll be surprised at what we can do. We may lack job-specific experience but we learn quickly.

Boring internships may be turning students off from entering the regular rat race. Instead, many students are looking to starting their own businesses. Our business idols are the founders of Napster and Google. We, perhaps unrealistically, want quick success not a long climb up a career ladder. An article by Donna Fenn calls this generation "the most entrepreneurial generation in our nation's history" and The Intuit Future of Small Business Report predicts a rise in young people creating their own businesses.

Instead of politely waiting for our turn to be in charge years down the line, we've learned that you have to stand out to get what you want. If going down expected routes doesn't produce results then we'll just have to go our own way.