Food for thought: do unpaid internships “pay”?

4 Nov

Take a look at this thought-provoking article from the Atlantic Monthly that suggests that college students who get unpaid internships don’t necessarily have a leg up in the post-graduate job market. (Note that for English majors in the studies they cite, there appears to be little difference between students with no internship, those with unpaid internships, and those who have paid internships.)

The question they leave unanswered is, why is this?

The comments section debates this question. My $.02: many internships for college students, especially those in EN-friendly fields (marketing, communications, PR, advertising, journalism, publishing), are frankly not worth very much. Yet I would argue that internships per se are not the problem: rather, it’s the kind of internship you get, and what you do once you get it. I think it’s important in these fields more than others that interns need to make sure that they are obtaining skills, developing networks, and the like– these are tangible and important benefits from having internships, and are usually not guaranteed by the employer. It’s up to you– the intern– to make sure you get out of the internship what you need in order to ensure future success.

What do you all think?

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