Not long ago I was on the phone with the CIO of a major professional sports organization. During our conversation she shared that she was at the time fielding applications from experienced IT professionals, contractors who would normally charge upwards of $30 per hour for their services. They were facing a job market so bleak they were now sending her their résumés for internships designed for college students that paid around $10 per hour.
This was three or four months ago, and apparently things haven't improved much. According to a survey released last week by Robert Half International, three percent of the 4,000 executives across the country (including CIOs) said they expected to hire in IT, while nine percent actually planned to add IT staff. Meanwhile, six percent reported plans to cut IT workers. An overwhelming 84 percent anticipated no change.
The thought of seasoned IT pros applying for paid internships, to be frank, boggles my mind. I'm trying to imagine what it's like to marshal the wherewithal to face the day under such circumstances. I will confess: I tend to be the defeatist type (sometimes downright cynical) and I'm usually unmoved by inspirational quotes from great historical figures, let alone entreaties to persevere with total conviction in the face of adversity. When people urge me not to give up and bravely forge ahead (and that would be just about everyone I know at some point in my life), my gut reaction is, "What's the use? Look around; it's a lost cause."
Then I recently came across this quotation: "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense."
It's the same urging people give and hear all the time -- nothing unique in the message. The speaker, however, was Winston Churchill in 1941. When I read this I thought, "OK, you win. You and everyone who's said that to me all my life -- you all win." I mean, what do you say to the guy who saved England -- and possibly the world -- from Hitler with that attitude? Keep in mind, too, that Churchill didn't just face off with Hitler. Before he even had to deal with that he had to stand up to then-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his majority, who were more or less resigned to capitulating to the Nazis. It was pretty much Churchill and a handful of other guys who were voices in the wilderness, insisting to the establishment that this was the worst plan conceivable.
So if you're a deflated and demoralized IT job seeker, listen to Churchill. After all, you will find a job no matter how grim it may seem now. Churchill, or England for that matter, was less certain about the future. You're looking for a job. You may even be trying to pay rent this month. So if applying for an internship is "good sense" right now, do it. Otherwise, stay the course in finding the right job. When somebody who saved a nation from the Führer gives advice, it's probably a good idea to listen.