Aug 16, 2013

How do you feel about unpaid internships?

Apparently Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization is looking for an unpaid intern to work there. Ms. Sandberg made a measly $92,000,000, but you know, times are tough, so there isn’t enough left over to pay some intern $10 an hour. I used to be ok with unpaid internships, viewing them as more as an opportunity for an unskilled but potentially talented individual to develop some practical skills and experience. I’ve changed my view, frankly, and now see it as a way for companies to get free labor. What do you think? Are unpaid internships a valuable learning experience or a way to exploit young people?

Interns have bills, just like the full time employees. Some sort of reasonable stipend should be included as part of the position. No, it doesn't have to make the intern rich but fair compensation for work performed is the only just thing to do.
A company that is highly profitable and pays its executives enormous salaries should be able to pay an intern some amount of money. Free labor in return for "valuable experience" is often a recipe for exploitation.
In theory, a bright unpaid intern gets to learn valuable job skills in a mentored environment where they would otherwise be unqualified to work, making them more valuable to potential future employees. This may actually happen for some people, but in my personal experience, many interns are viewed as employees that you don’t have to pay who can do all the menial tasks that no one else wants to do. Also, with the cost of college continuing its upward spiral, unpaid internships just make it harder for students to afford school. A summer as an unpaid intern means the loss of the income that would have came with a traditional summer job, even a poorly paying one. Personally, I think that there should be at least minimum wage compensation for interns. Kudos to companies that do internships right, though.
Answer this