Monday, August 05, 2013

The Art of Ingratiating

NPR's on the media has a recent piece on the debate about unpaid internships suing their employers for wages. For me, the debate is not very interesting. My basic view is that interns should be paid what the market will bear, and if there are people willing to work for free, forcing employers to pay will just reduce the number of positions and increase unemployment.  (with all the usual caveats from the minimum wage debate).

But the more interesting line was their interview with one intern who says the key skill in an internship is "this process of figuring out how to sort of ingratiate yourself with the people with whom you are doing the internship, without being really annoying. That's a fine tightrope to walk."

Which is an important skill that is too rarely discussed or acknowledged. Something I have been working to perfect ever since I was 10 and teachers told me to stop raising my hand in class, to today, when its more about selling my research to the big names in my field without being annoying about it. I see people do both poorly all the time, whether its the pestering assistant professors crowding around an editor at a conference, to the students in class that probably raise their hand more often than they should. 

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