Working for free: the world of internships

Working for free: the world of internships

Working for free: the world of internships
March 08
00:18 2018

Internships are essential in terms of accumulating experience, learning, networking and gaining confidence.

They’re also required in a lot of majors, particularly for those pursuing a journalism degree.

In these majors, internships can arguably be considered the most exciting aspect of getting a degree because it allows the student to branch outside of the classroom — after years of working out of one exclusively — and test their skills in a realistic environment. It’s a way of feeling out a field before taking the full leap.

Now, considering all of the advantages of internships, it is disappointing to note that internships are unfair — at least in the ways in which they function right now.

Firstly, many interns do not get paid. There are very few internships out there that provide compensation for work done as an intern. This does not make sense because this would be considered grossly unjust in any other situation. Work? Without pay? I am sure there are countless laws making it crystal clear how wrong this is, on so many different fronts. What made it okay for businesses and organizations to provide no sort of pay for the work interns do?

Okay, yeah, most likely interns will not be doing the most important work for their employer, but if they are putting in any kind of work, they should be paid. Contribution is contribution — bottom line.

Then there is the argument that interns are students, more often than not. Students already have to juggle class, homework, extracurriculars and probably a job (where they actually get paid), and they have very little time to spare on an internship that will not offer them any sort of financial leeway. It then becomes quite hard to focus on the work you are doing at this internship when you weigh the fact it is taking time away from your other job where you can actually pay for things, like rent, food and tuition.

Paying interns just seems like a smarter and more fair option for everyone involved. Even if the intern does not decide to stay where they’re interning at for the long run, the organization or business they’re interning for will be more likely to receive work of a higher quality if they are compensated. Interns will be able to put more time into finding the right environment or field of work for themselves while gaining experience and knowledge.

Featured Image: Illustration by Gabby Evans

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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