If you have not yet done so you should check out the Planet Money reports on job creation. There is an episode of This American Life and an issue of WIRED magazine. What I found interesting were the graphics that noted Hartford as an epicenter of jobs for the aerospace, automotive, communications, and electrical equipment industries.
I finished finals yesterday and so my first summer project (besides finding an internship) is learning how to process and visualize raw data using tools on my computer. I bought the O’Reilly Data Bootcamp video from their Strata Conference and hope to learn some new things with it over the next day or two. The first pitfall I encountered was setting up my Macbook Pro with the proper tools. The bootcamp requirements are here and they include use of Python. The version that comes pre-installed did not appear to function well so I had to download the latest one from Python.org. I also had to install XCode (included on the Mac OS X install CD) before I could get all the modules installed. I plan on doing the course tomorrow and will post a review and results.
I have had both paid, underpaid, and unpaid internships in a variety of fields during my undergraduate years and now in law school. I have enjoyed and benefitted from all these experiences. I do not regret any of them and to the extent that I have been able to afford them I’d do it again.
In spite of this the Department of Labor headed in the right direction with its policy towards unpaid internships. I believe that generally unpaid internships are poor policy. Interns create value that corporations benefit from, lack of paying internships discourages talent from certain fields, and there is a lack of negotiating symmetry on the part of students and employers. However, I do not think unpaid internships should be outlawed or eliminated. Non-profits should certainly continue to be allowed to offer them. Corporations and government should offer them to the extent they serve as classes or are in partnership with the university where the primary oversight and control is by a professor. Otherwise corporations and governments should be required to pay interns at least minimum wage.
My friends at WPI have been posting about the fact that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was chosen to be their commencement speaker this year. I’ve seen comments on both sides and there is a movement to protest the speech. Concerns have been raised primarily about Exxon Mobil’s corporate ethics and their contributions to global climate change. Based on the comments on facebook the protest group is attempting to be flexible and undisruptive in their actions. However the unfortunate result of this debacle is that this commencement is now about politics instead of the graduates. I can only hope that next month those on both sides of this debate will be able to celebrate together and focus on building a better future.