The concept of “internships” has disturbed me for many years.
Basically, this is a way to get people to work and not get paid. Which means, only those who can afford to work without pay have the option of taking these internships. Therefore, this closes a lot of doors to a lot of young people.
I don’t like anything that inhibits upward mobility and this is a big inhibition.
Now, it seems, this is becoming more and more the case…
There is a job opening! It seems perfect—full time, in the non-profit sector, based in New York City. It’s obviously a prestigious position—they’re looking to hire someone with at least a masters’ degree, though in certain cases this can be interchangeable with five years of related work experience. There’s only one small problem: it’s unpaid.
According to statistics from the National Association for Colleges and Employers, the number of students at four-year colleges who took internships increased from nine percent to more than 80 percent between 1992 and 2008. Once the economy crashed, and a paying job became a luxury rather than a fact of life, many jobs were re-packaged as internships, promising experience and career connections in exchange for free labor.
Recent graduates, disturbed by the dearth of job opportunities, began to take internships as a last resort to stay competitive in the labor market. Although an internship used to be akin to an apprenticeship—a temporary stint of unpaid, hands-on labor resulting in an eventual job offer—the explosion of both college students and recent graduates taking internships no longer guarantees a paid position. Instead, as more and more young people demonstrated they were willing to supply an unpaid labor force so long as it was framed as an “internship,” internships have become a means for companies and non-profit organizations to re-package once paying jobs and cut corners in a tight economy.
Internships are the new entry-level job—the same duties and basic experience, only this time without compensation or benefits.