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Is Joining the Occupy Movement Better Than an Internship?

Taking a stand for your future is a better investment than fetching coffee.

In early October, I spent the day talking to protesters at Occupy Los Angeles about their hopes for the movement. Among them was Jose Hernandez, a 21-year-old student who quit his part-time job as a photo technician to camp out full-time. I’m sure many of the 1 percent, the police, and many members of the media would criticize his decision to leave a secure job and join a protest arguing for more secure jobs, but I see it differently. For Hernandez, and thousands of other young people, the present is bleak. They want a brighter future.

Finally, our generation is taking a stand, and we have a chance to be a part of something more than serving lattes or spreading guacamole on a Chipotle burrito for a few bucks an hour. We’re faced with a choice: continue working an unfulfilling low-wage job or unpaid internship, or become part of something meaningful and future-shaping.

I love my internship here at GOOD, but years from now, I’m not sure I’ll value time spent making slideshows or blogging on our Tumblr account. And less-fortunate interns at other businesses surely won’t value their time spent fetching coffee or making copies. But the protesters at UC Davis who were pepper-sprayed in the face, or the occupiers at Berkeley who were beat by police alongside their professors, will never forget their contribution to a cause they really believed in.

So it's not all that crazy to quit your job, skip class, and tell your internship adviser you won't be coming in for a couple of days. The only thing you'll regret is letting history pass you by.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user EsotericSapience.

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