The Wall St. Journal has a fascinating article on a new path to a plum summer job in "Internships for Sale": Have your parents buy it.
What? One more crazy (and expensive) perversion of growing up!!!
The article describes a number of firms, usually although not exclusively, privately held, that "donate" an internship to a private academy’s charity auction. Parents of presumably high achievers bid up to $5000 for their child’s chance at face time with leading executives at firms like Nuveen Investments, Morgan Stanley, Web MD, and Electronic Arts. The winning parent’s teen secures a great summer internship to help him or her determine a professional path, enhance their college application, and in the case of paid positions, make some very nice money.
Critics holler that firms should hire the most qualified people to enhance share-holder value, not the pocket books of favorite charities. Others feel that these positions aren’t really internships and they are really more like shadowing or mentoring. (I agree with the latter.)
The donating firms feel these donations should just be viewed as alumni supporting their alma mater or a favorite cause. Some also claim that by turning to elite academies they are saving their firms the time and cost of an expensive screening process while supporting favored institutions.
Although the article reports on several firms that have participated in these auctioned internships, I believe the overwhelming majority of summer jobs are found the old fashioned ways: Using connections, as the article acknowledges, and pounding the pavement. "The Bids of Summer" may be a passing phenomenon or they may be here to stay, but I don’t believe they are the tip of an iceberg.