Unpaid Internships: Pricy Or Priceless? Essay

1606 words - 6 pages

Every college student is concerned about his or her academic future, especially nowadays in times of the economic crisis. College students are desperate for experience that might distinguish them later from other job applicants and improve their chances of getting their
desired jobs. Internships provide valuable experience necessary for jobs and are an important part of the academic career. However, when it comes to internships, the issue of unpaid internships may be raised with opinions differing on the question of the benefits of such unpaid internships. Many people believe that since a salary does not cover the emerging costs, like living expenses and transportation, unpaid internships turn into a pricy experience that lay an even heavier financial burden on students. Therefore, they regard unpaid internships as detrimental for students. While it is true that unpaid internships can be a costly experience, it does not make them a less beneficial experience. Internships contribute to career development and it has been shown that they provide more opportunities in the job market. In addition to the enrichment of the resume, internships are valuable experiences that enhance the personal development of students. Since internships are a part of education, the costs have to be seen as an investment in the future - as every education is.
While everybody may agree to some extent that internships provide valuable experience, the common objection is that unpaid internships are a heavy financial burden on college students. Internships at nonprofit business, government and media are largely unpaid. It’s a fact that students have to pay for food, transportation, and sometimes even housing if they have an internship in a different city. This can be very expensive, since the big firms that provide internships are in expensive cities, New York for example. Additionally, in order to protect themselves from being accused of illegal exploitation of labor, firms follow the governmental guidelines for unpaid internships. One of the six criteria of a legal unpaid internship is that “the internship experience is for the benefit of the intern”. Since benefit is a very subjective term, firms try to assure the benefit by requesting interns to get college credits for their internship. This is certainly a benefit, but to receive the credit students have to pay tuition. Chris Maher, a student at the University of Minnesota, expresses it in an article in the University Wire as “literally, […] paying for an unpaid internship." The example of the NYU graduate Michael Feldman is described in an article in the Christian Science Monitor: Feldman had to pay $1,600 for the credit so he could intern at "The Daily Show." Because of all those costs, it depends on the financial of the students, and not everyone has the equal opportunity to obtain an internship. Therefore, unpaid internships are considered to be more of a burden than a benefit and for many students the only...

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