By Hillarie Hazelton | Echo
Work and learn. There's no denying internships are a vital part of success in the modern-day workforce. They allow you can try a job on like a hat, gain the necessary experience to make yourself employable or competitive and earn college credit in the process. But there's a snag: not all internships are paid.
Unpaid internships are legal if they meet criteria such as: providing education training, benefiting the intern rather than the employer, and contributing in a lesser way than an employee, but should they be the norm?
No, they shouldn't.
I've had paid and unpaid internships. Both have proven beneficial to my training, but unpaid internships still have serious drawbacks. These increase if the unpaid internship is completed in the summer for credit.
Why? Because you have to pay Taylor tuition per credit hour earned. Ouch. Sorry, not everybody can swing that. But we can't always afford to be picky if we're earning credit. Graduation trumps hard work for zero pay, even as my mountain of debt increases.
As a student, I have limited resources. I have the money to drive back and forth to work several times per week, but it is difficult to motivate myself when my gas tank nears the dreaded "E" and the contents of my bank account slowly dwindle. No matter how grand the opportunity, if I can't pay the price that comes with a position because the pay is zilch, something is wrong with the system.
Yet employers want trained professionals, not recent college grads. So, more and more students and recent graduates are becoming unpaid interns instead of employees. It's a vicious cycle.
I want to feel like my time is valued. I want to know that my hard work will be rewarded. I want my internship to count as valid work experience when I apply for full-time jobs. It's not about entitlement; it's about earning a college degree to have a job that pays.
Not every unpaid internship position is inherently evil, but that doesn't make the overall process right. If the job lacks learning opportunities, it's simply a cheap way to get busy work done. If it's a post-graduate internship, it's downright insulting and possibly illegal depending on how it meets the unpaid internship criteria.
Statistically, unpaid interns are less likely to receive a job offer than paid interns. Yes, that paid internship gives you an edge. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, paid interns also tend to earn a higher salary than unpaid interns in future salaried positions. Shall I also acknowledge that monetary recognition of hard work also boosts morale and productivity? Because it does.
The solution is so simple, yet the problem still exists. Company budgets can manage to pay interns minimum wage. Interns can't manage to live on nothing.