At the risk of looking like an "asshole, lazy millennial," I want to discuss unpaid internships and their benefits to our society or lack thereof. In the past, internships of any kind were the golden gate for experience in the workplace. The benefits of having an internship meant that one would have the necessary skills to help later in a job—usually with the same company! When unpaid internships were amazing was when people did not need quite as much to live comfortably. These internships usually lead immediately to a job with that company or at the very least gave enough experience that a job was found fairly quickly afterwards. The benefits from these have dwindled in my opinion, sure the experience is great, but at what price?
Internships anymore are not about getting actual work experience—sure at some places it still is, but many places use interns as a way for the grunt work that employees dislike to be passed on to the unpaid person even though the employee would be paid to do those jobs. This supposedly is a way that has people "Paying their Dues." The people that do this are those who have not necessarily had to do any of that without pay as interns either. Paying dues has become hypocritical. It is now just a way to assert power over those lowly interns at a company. Many people, especially in those unpaid positions, are treated like garbage at the same time. Not a good role model for the company—not good advertising for employee moral either if you ask me. Who would want to work with people like that? Who would want to work at a company where this happens? No status besides INTERN. No money and the crap work that you may not even be spending more than a few minutes on in a regular basis. Not many.
People need income which in the case of having an unpaid internship in this day and age leads people to have to overwork themselves with another job on the side to even gain this precious experience. It is especially hard to achieve this when a person is still going to school or has a limited schedule at work anyway (those jobs that are only open 9-5). The experience they could have gained from this internship goes out the window as the person still needs and income which makes scheduling for an 40-60 hour a week unpaid internship impossible. Even if an internship was paid, a student could barely cover tuition, if that, so an unpaid internship would not be at all financially feasible if they were needing to pay for anything. I have had many opportunities where an internship would be amazing… but at the same time I needed income and I only had a certain amount of time each week to still get an income, still go to classes, get my studying done, and then on top have internship hours to get in. Scheduling is not the only conflict that college students run into. The cost of college has raised significantly every year. Colleges now are almost 12-20 thousand a year for classes. People already need crazy loans (if they do not come from money) to just get their degree. Many college students pay their own way through school but even with the help of loans, it is not financially possible to have just an unpaid internship.
I feel the only way to get the most of the experience in an internship is to be able to devote as much time as would be needed to benefit from it. The only way to do that is to have no distractions like another job schedule to worry about. The cost of living has gone up incredibly high since the Baby Boomer age and is only getting higher so unpaid internships for the greatest experiences is hardly financially feasible unless someone was to have come from money to begin with. Tuition for college has almost doubled in cost according to a study for NPR by Anya Kamentz. Tuition for school is not the only thing that has gone up, as I have said previously. The cost of living has raised exponentially since the 1960s. Since cost of living is so much higher, no one can afford to take on unpaid internships... unless they already come from money and are guaranteed a position in a company. But let's be real. Most people are not guaranteed anything with an internship and the ones that truly need internships are those that do not come from a background of wealth. That being said, internships should be paid.