Cool job or practical internship?
May 17, 2012 12:08 PM   Subscribe

I haven't gotten an offer yet, but if I do, would it be a bad idea to pass it up for something with less benefits?

I am a recent graduate who is not 100% certain what she wants to do; but I do know I want to do something writing-related. I think that my dream job, in an ideal world, would be to become a religion reporter, but until and unless that happens (religion reporters are not super high in demand these days), I plan to just get whatever writing experience I can.

Here is my current (hypothetical) dilemma:

I have been contributing to a music website based in my home state for the past five weeks, and I just found out that they would like to start paying me in June ($0.10 per word, and the articles usually average at least 700 words). I have no illusions of grandeur here; I know I would have to get another part-time job to support myself, but I'm just excited that I will actually be paid to write. Yay!

But I also have an interview for a paid communications internship with a software company in a town half an hour away from where I attended college next week. I don't want to jinx it, but because of alumni network connections I think I have a pretty good shot at getting it.

Hypothetically speaking, if I did get the internship, I'm leaning more towards doing the former than the latter, for the following reasons:
1.) I already know what I'll be doing, and I know that I enjoy it. The internship itself seems to consist mostly of grunt work, though it would probably evolve into something more interesting if it transitioned to a paid position.
2.) Better location. The internship would be in a small city, which is a big improvement over the tiny town where I currently live, but any major concerts or anything culturally interesting would be a two hour drive away. If I returned to my hometown, I wouldn't have to commute to attend these sorts of things. I would be staying with my cousin, who's willing to cut me some slack on rent until I finish off paying my loans. The internship town seems like a pretty expensive place to live, apartment rental-wise.

But there are some good things about this internship, too:

1.) The experience it offers--I have plenty of journalistic and editorial experience, but lately I've been thinking about getting more marketing/communications experience, simply because I think it's a really useful skill set to have. There are very specific cities with an editorial/publishing focus, but marketing firms are in any city, so I think having that sort of experience is useful no matter where you go.
2.) Possibility of transitioning to a paid position with benefits. With this particular perk, I'm thinking specifically of the usefulness of having health insurance. I am healthy right now (knock on wood) and covered under my parent's insurance, but what would happen if Obama's healthcare reforms are reversed over the next few years?
3.) This place sounds like a lower-scale, Midwestern version of Google: the office has a restaurant, a barber and hairstylist, slides and a gym. But again, location is less than desirable.
4.) I will be out of my widowed mother's reach (the town the web site is based in is two hours from her home), so I won't feel obligated to have to visit her. I know that's a horrible thing to say, but sometimes I feel as if going to visit her prevents me from having my own independent life. I feel like I don't have the freedom of being in full control of my schedule if I visit her twice a month on the weekends--which is probably the frequency I would be expected to visit and help out.

From what I've read about the software company on, the pay isn't that great, so I think the pay amount for the two would be almost equal. I have read past AskMe threads about being a music journalist, and I know it's not the glamorous job people think it is, since many music writers have to write about music they don't even like (although the site is selective about which artists it profiles, so luckily I don't have to deal with that as much), so that particular factor is not a concern to me.

Bottom line, I am wondering if it is silly of me to be leaning toward the music writing job, even though it's part-time with no benefits? I'm honestly thinking that the pain of having to visit home every so often would be worth it.
posted by dean_deen to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Is there any reason you can't do both of them?
posted by punchtothehead at 12:10 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

And just to add some more info about the parent situation: we get along fine, but there are certain things we don't see eye-to-eye on, and we've had some pretty rough moments in the past that I still harbor some resentment over, which is also why it's hard to spend a significant amount of time with her.
posted by dean_deen at 12:12 PM on May 17, 2012

I think turning down the internship, should they offer it to you, would be a mistake. Every first job for a college graduate involves grunt work- there is no easy path to becoming an experienced professional, you have to claw your way through those first few years. You can continue writing part-time while you work; in fact, I bet the two jobs put together would keep you so busy you'd have no time to visit Mom (sorry, Mom! soooooo busy with work, can't came to see you this weekend). Moving to a new town and building a new life is really exciting and can energize an engaged person; going back home and crashing with your cousin, eh, I don't know. If it were me, that would really suck my ambition dry.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:25 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another vote for doing both if you can. You're going to have to get a job to supplement the writing gig anyway. Why not get a paycheck that gives you valuable work experience, too?
posted by serialcomma at 12:56 PM on May 17, 2012

Do both, absolutely. If it turns out that it's too much work, drop the music writing for the time being. You can always go back later. An internship will get you valuable work experience in a professional capacity. A paid internship is fantastic!

Good luck!
posted by InsanePenguin at 1:42 PM on May 17, 2012

Yes, you're being silly.

Do the internship, and write blog posts for a music website remotely. I don't know any freelance bloggers/content creators who work in-office.

From what I've read about the software company on, the pay isn't that great, so I think the pay amount for the two would be almost equal.

Nope. For the writing gig, you'll almost surely have to pay the taxes yourself. Plus the cost of insurance.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:13 PM on May 17, 2012

I should look into doing both, although most of the site's writers are based in the city, because they do conduct in-person interviews a few times a month.

But I'm still hesitant about the location. After spending four years in an isolated town, I was looking forward to moving back to a mid-sized city with a ton of things to do. The internship city is...not quite as entertaining.
posted by dean_deen at 2:57 PM on May 17, 2012

Sounds like you need to separate out some issues here.

You have been contributing to this website from afar, right? And now they want to pay you? Is there a reason you think they want you to move to their city?

If you want to move to the big city, then you should be looking at jobs and internships in the big city. It doesn't sound like you've been doing that. If you're willing to live in the small city then you should take the internship.

A good rule of thumb for unemployed recent graduates: Say yes when people give you opportunities. Try it out. Move on if you hate it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:55 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was originally always planning to move back home after my graduation ceremony (when I said I was a "recent graduate," I meant that I graduated in December; I chose to spend what would have been the spring semester in my college town), and I told the web site I would be moving back in June.

And I've been applying to plenty of jobs in the city; it's just that so far these are the only companies that have bothered getting back to me.
posted by dean_deen at 4:02 PM on May 17, 2012

Er, that is, the web site is the only "big city" company that's gotten back to me; I've applied to jobs in other bigger cities but none of them hired me.
posted by dean_deen at 4:08 PM on May 17, 2012

In your shoes, I'd go with the internship and try to freelance the job. I wouldn't even have to think about this because the internship is much more likely to get you a better job in the future. Also, fresh out of college, MOST jobs are gonna be grunt work.

Also, the writing gig may not actually equal out to the hourly wage for the other place, if you factor in the time committment.
posted by sm1tten at 9:06 AM on May 18, 2012

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