Yesterday’s announcement by the National Football League that onetime League office intern Roger Goodell has been chosen as the new commissioner has to warm the hearts of long-suffering interns everywhere.
According to published reports, the then 24-year-old Goodell not only served as a League PR intern way back when, but actually chauffeured former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle through New Orleans during a Super Bowl. Clearly, the young guy demonstrated a positive, "can do" attitude and began to build a positive image and reputation for himself that resulted in his election to the sport’s top job.
Goodell’s major career coup should bring a smile to interns everywhere. Yes, Virginia, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those individuals who are willing to suck it up, play by the rules and surprise and delight their bosses a la the young Goodell.
Speaking from personal experience, I can say that we’ve had some great and not-so-great interns at our firm. On the positive side of the ledger, I’m pleased to report that no fewer than 10 former interns have risen through the ranks and are making significant contributions. So, in effect, nearly one-sixth of our total, current employee population is represented by one-time interns. If that isn’t a statement about the opportunities inherent in an internship, I don’t know what is.
At the same time, though, we’ve had some real losers. To wit:
1. the intern who, while engaged in a friendly game of pool at a long ago agency holiday party gave my partner, Ed, the finger not once, but twice.
2. the intern who, when asked by yours truly about the status of an important research project replied, "Sorry dude. Guess I flaked."
3. the intern who, after reporting for work her first day, never showed up for a second.
And so and so forth. The point is that image and reputation begin on day one of a person’s career. And, the "first day" is not the first day of full-time employment but, rather, the first day of an internship.
So, for all those interns out there who moan and groan about the hard work and low pay, take a look at Roger Goodell. There’s one man who made the most of his internship and is now laughing all the way to the bank.