It’s that time of year again, when students start thinking about how they’re going to spend their summer breaks. The word, “internship,” almost always comes up for the ambitious college or grad student, but the word “paid” rarely qualifies it. Several excellent articles have come about recently about the hypocrisy (and potential labor standards violations) of unpaid interns.The Atlantic ran the piece The Paradox of the Unpaid Intern, and came to this basic conclusion on the subject, “Unpaid internships: Good for many students, but bad for some students, good for the economy, but bad for low-wage workers, but good for early-career mobility, but bad for social equality, and illegal, but widely accepted, so practically legal.” It’s not easy to draw the line between an unpaid internship that will be a good idea in the long run, and just a terrible summer job. Unpaid internships are definitely a women’s issue. As another Atlantic post says, Unpaid Internships are a Rich Girl’s Problem – and Also a Real Problem, many of the young women who make up 75 percent of all unpaid interns are from families with means. The burden of their cost of living goes back to their parents (or in a lot of cases, the second job they are working to afford this “great experience”). Of course there are a lot of young women (and men) who do not come from means and cannot afford to take these unpaid internships. There is an opportunity cost there too – they lose out on the opportunity to network, pad their resumes, and explore new interests and fields. Many of these folks fall victim to an even more costly ways of moving up in the world, such as Diploma Mills that charge fees for worthless credentials.
The Only Way to Get a Job, Take a “Job”