Internships, and their downfall for our younger generation.
I remember when I got my first internship. Was I happy? Let me tell you, I was overjoyed. To finally be given a chance to step into the industry I’ve been dreaming of was such a great feeling. I made it through the Applicant Tracking System and was on my way to experiencing the industry.
But aren’t internships experience? They are, but for some companies, it sadly isn’t enough. Your best bet is to land an internship and pray it progresses to a full-time position.
What is an intern?
For those interns who are unpaid, unfortunately, they only have a 37% chance of getting a job, 1% per cent more than graduates who have no internship experience. It’s shocking, isn’t it? But hey, if you do manage to score an internship that does pay, your chances do increase by 60% — massive difference.
The financial hardships
A big reason I was able to complete my internships was that I was financially able to. I had to cancel work on certain days to do my internships, but with the help from my parents, I was able to make ends meet.
Everyone else is not so lucky like I was. In The United States, attending college is expensive enough. Affording to gain ‘experience’ at an unpaid internship is another issue.
Even internships that do offer to pay, are at such a low rate, and unless you get your opportunity to intern for Apple, Amazon or Google, you pretty much will be working for no cost. Free labour.
Colleges and universities do well with this. They have made prerequisites for students to complete an internship as part of their course to graduate. So, students have to pay their university to complete a class (internship), that they have to venture out and find/learn on their own, and get no pay for this labour work.
With such expensive rent prices, especially living in N.Y.C, Washington and L.A; it’s no wonder many small-town kids can’t afford to move and start with their career progression.
Companies need to think and implement being progressive, and by doing that they need to be flexible on supporting interns. I spend around $50 a week on public transport to get to work, and so can interns; the difference is that I get paid to work, and can afford this expense. How can $15 per hour for a 3-month internship hurt? Hire interns only if you can afford to pay them.
Save, save, save, gone.
The downside of saving enough money to be able to afford not to be working for a few months is ‘time’. It could take potential interns even up to one year to do that, and with that, it makes them one year older and can put them at a disadvantage against the more younger crowd who can easily afford it.
With career advisors and professors encouraging students to have several internships under their belt before they graduate, it can become even harder once a student has graduated. For some organisations they may only take in wealthier postgrad applicants who they know can afford it, rather than offering an income to graduates who are at a lower financial medium.
At times, you may question what the benefit of an internship even is? Internships are both work and learning experiences of what it will be like in the real world, so once again it’s tricky.
Interns benefit the employer, as they’re working for free and the employer doesn’t need to worry about incurring costs. If an intern makes a mistake or fails to complete set tasks, the company merely ends the internship just like that.
America, like so many other countries, is still behind in the rise of paying their interns. What do you believe should be different? Do you reimburse your interns who work full-time?
At the end of the day it is an opportunity, and a possible foot in the door. The door could be huge so mind your way as you enter. Thankfully, there are incredible nonprofit organisations that are fighting against Congress to pay interns.
I hope that further change is still yet to come, and maybe you can help make that change happen too.
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