NEWER POST

Buying Local Blooms in Floral Industry

OLDER POST

Charm City Cook: Fresh Finds at Baltimore's Farmers' Market

Schools

Unpaid Internships Are Exploitation. Or Are They?

0 Written by: | Tuesday, May 15, 2012 11:36am

Are unpaid internships exploitation?Around this time last year, I remember asking my Johns Hopkins students what their summer plans were. As soon as the question left my mouth, I could tell it was a mistake. Apart from the few who had solid gigs as lifeguards or research assistants, most of these bright and dedicated kids were still searching for someone who would let them work for the summer… for free. Once an optional half-step up the career ladder, the unpaid internship has become something of a necessity. According to new research, more than 90 percent of employers think that students should have completed at least a couple internships before graduating. And that, according to Atlantic editor Derek Thompson, is a big problem, because “unpaid internships aren’t morally defensible.”

Yikes. Those are some strong words. But Thompson has the arguments to back it up. First of all, a career track founded on unpaid internships (as is common in politics, research, journalism, and non-profits) hurts low-income students. “These students need work that pays money, but they also need an internship to work in the field. As a result, poorer students are at permanent disadvantage in the summer internship market,” Thompson writes. Even for students who aren’t in precarious economic positions, the unpaid internship is a shaky deal. Employers reap the benefits of bright young minds, but don’t have to offer up any job security, benefits, or actual money. According to the Labor Department’s guidelines, unpaid internships have to satisfy three requirements:  they must be more like education than a job; interns can’t work in place of paid employees; and their work must not be of “immediate benefit” to their employer. As Thompson notes, “these rules are flouted more routinely than speed limits.”

While innovative programs, such as the Johns Hopkins Community Impact Internship that we profiled last year, attempt to close the gap by paying students a living wage for their internship experience, Thompson argues that this is just a stop-gap measure that can’t address the system’s underlying inequality. If students are doing work, they should get paid a salary. What do you think:  are unpaid internships so exploitative that they should be trashed? Or is there some other solution?

Leave a Reply



NEWER POST

Buying Local Blooms in Floral Industry

OLDER POST

Charm City Cook: Fresh Finds at Baltimore's Farmers' Market

Most Comments This Week

5

5

In the Womb of the Airport Shuttle

Written by Janet Fricke Gilbert

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 11:37am

5

Baltimore's Water Wheel Sets a New Record

Written by Rachel Monroe

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 9:51am

2

Earth Day 2015: Fix the Roof While the Sun is Shining

Written by Laurel Peltier

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 2:09pm

Recent Comments

Theresa b. Domon
Jada Pinkett Smith Writes a Letter to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

"Delta Sigma Theta does not have a mascot. one of Delta's founder's collecting elephants....

Joan Ewing
A Lacrosse Stick Takes The Long Way Home: A Baltimore Lax Story

"Great story. Sooo Baltimore and its small world!!!

Joan Ewing
A Lacrosse Stick Takes The Long Way Home: A Baltimore Lax Story

"Jon, my great grandfather was a teacher at Moses Brown. I wasn't sure it was still open....

James Cobb
Blaster Al Way: Waverly Block Gets Renamed!

"As a friend, collaborator and neighbor in both Portland, Or and San Antonio, Texas I was...

Mousey Burke
Baltimore, Have You Been to “Hell House”?

"Ac tually there is an entrance, and it is on Park property, the entrance is just past the...