Do unpaid internships hurt society?

Posted January 28, 2020 by

The Augusta (Virginia) Free Press recently published an article that caught my eye. College Recruiter has published a number of articles about how unpaid internships are illegal and how unpaid internships harm students, but we haven’t focused as much on the damage that unpaid internships do to society. The article by the Free Press does that, and does that well.

College Recruiter believes that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. As a result, we are pretty passionate about how unfair unpaid internships are to students, especially when they’re offered by for-profit corporations as those organizations are essentially saying that their business operations and shareholders should be subsidized by mostly young adults who are often going to graduate with student debt that can’t be discharged by bankruptcy (the only form of debt that can’t be) and is as large as many mortgages.

Some might argue that employers shouldn’t have to pay interns because the interns get training and experience from the work. Yes, they get training and experience, but doesn’t that apply to all work? Should we all work for free?

Others might argue that non-profits and government agencies shouldn’t have to pay interns. That’s already the law federally, but we disagree there too. Just because you’re a non-profit does not mean you’re struggling financially. It just means you don’t have shareholders and so excess cash is reinvested into the operations instead of being distributed to owners. As for government agencies, the U.S. government literally has the power to print money so any argument that federal agencies don’t have the ability to pay just doesn’t fly. They may choose not to pay, but the federal government has more ability to pay its workers a reasonable wage than any other entity in the world.

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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters, Career Advice for Job Seekers, Industry News and Information, Salary, Scholarships and Finances | Tagged