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Should all Internships be Paid?

Kimberly Trabulsi, Staff Writer

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For the majority of majors at the University of New Haven, graduating with an internship is mandatory. In most cases, an internship helps push your career forward. Employers often look at resumes for signs of prior leadership positions and similar experiences in the field. Internships offer just that, and give many that extra competitive edge in the difficult job market after graduation.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) 2014 Internship and Co-op Survey, employers offered full-time positions to 65 percent of their interns.You’d think everyone would want to jump on any internship opportunity that they can, right?

Because so many internships are unpaid, this is not always possible. According to the same report, 46.5 percent of internships were unpaid for the class of 2014. Unpaid internships are unaffordable and unattainable to a huge chunk of college students. Having an unpaid internship means dedicating multiple days a week to a job that actually costs money in the end.

I have experienced this twice in the past couple of years. As a Communications major, the only way to snatch up paid internships is to have connections or have had previous internships. An unpaid internship seemed unavoidable. I worked as a Communications intern last summer and last semester, unpaid from May to August 2016 and January to May 2017.

I cannot deny the incredible opportunities these internships have brought me. I was able to dip my toes in real-world experience and really develop my skills. However, I haven’t been able to recover financially from these internships since. Between trains and parking garages, the pricey commute was disastrous on my bank account.

Marina Jube, a senior marketing and business management double major, had a very similar experience.

“I think working at an unpaid internship is hard because it takes up so much of your time and you still have bills to pay. I had rent to pay, food to buy, gas to fill to get to my internship, loans, etcetera, and I made $0 a week,” she said. “I went into so much debt that I am still trying to pay off. I finally was able to get a job about three quarters of the way through but I ended up working over 40 hours a week just to be able to pay my bills.”’

Having an internship is a job in itself. It can be difficult balancing the time for this responsibility with an actual paying job.

“I think the experience is necessary but being expected to survive when you’re not being paid is ridiculous. I really loved it there, the people are awesome, and the experience is great, but the subject of not being paid is hard. I couldn’t afford food, rent, my bills, etc.,” said Jube.

When looking into the numbers further, it was discovered that 65.4 percent of those who had completed a paid internship from the class of 2014 received a job offer prior to graduation. Compared to 39.5 percent of students who had unpaid internships and 38.6 percent of those who had no internship experience at all. This may lead to the conclusion that there is virtually no benefit at all from an unpaid internship and no internship.

I think this is an issue that needs to be talked about more often. Every student should look forward to an internship opportunity without the burden of wondering if they will be riddled with debt from the experience.

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Should all Internships be Paid?