Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Going Once, Going Twice…SOLD to the Ultimate Hustler

One of my favorite lines from the Chappelle Show comes from the Racial Draft episode where Chappelle, dressed in white face, plays a white man representing the white delegation in their attempt to secure certain prominent figures in society whose racial make-up or allegiance is somewhat ambiguous. Well, there's a portion of the draft where the Rondelle, the black delegation representative played by Mos Def, tries to put one over on the white delegation. Chappelle responds saying, "all right, well no hustling me! You're talking to the ultimate hustler."

The Weekend Edition of the WSJ had an article a few weekends ago titled "Internships for Sale" that made me realize that while the complexion of the ultimate hustlers in today’s world might have changed, their power certainly has not. If you don't have money in this world, the reality is that opportunities for upward mobility will be far more difficult for you, especially when summer internships are up for grabs for parents of children who are still in elementary school.

In the competitive world of summer internships, a new route to plum spots is emerging: buying them at auctions, often at elite private schools. This spring, internships at Morgan Stanley, NBC, Miramax, WebMD, Electronic Arts and host of other companies have been put out to bid at auctions across the country. Bids often reach into the $2,000 to $5,000 range.

There are two issues with this. On the one hand, the actions of these corporations seem to indicate that they believe that the value or work aptitude of an employee can be determined early on in life. On the other hand you have parents deciding what profession their children will pursue far too early on in life. And while children may not know what’s best for them I feel the selection of their vocation is certainly an infringement on their freedom.

In retrospect some of these companies have found that the auctioning of summer internships was a bad idea for reasons other than those that I’ve mentioned above, namely the principle of fairness in hiring that the practice seems to violate. I have the impression, however, that other companies will need more than mere retrospection to convince them to make this practice obsolete.

No comments: