In the modern workforce, internships are a necessary evil for any graduate looking to snag an entry-level job. How else can you enter a career with "five years of experience" straight out of college? It's an oxymoron if there ever was one.
And I'm not knocking internships. Given the right supervision and environment, students can learn a lot about their respective fields through interning.
The problem is this: most internships aren't accessible for the underprivileged.
Pair that with the fact that many employers now require internship experience, and the whole system becomes a serious problem. It sets lower class students back, especially when hiring managers begin to favor the students that were able to complete internships.
And what sets one group of students apart from the other?
For one, internships can take up a huge portion of time each week. Some companies demand almost full-time hours from their unpaid laborers. This makes it downright difficult to hold down a paying job and pursue a degree at the same time.
The kids who need to pay the rent will usually opt out in favor of a full-time position, even if it isn't directly related to their field. You can chalk it up to less dedication, but it's actually just survival.
There's also the issue of transportation. Unfortunately, most managers expect their interns to work out of the office.
It's a wonder that there aren't more remote internships available, given the fact that college students have hectic schedules, to begin with. And you know, bus and train fare can add up after a while.
And those minuscule stipends that only a handful of companies offer just don't cut it.
The truth is, the entire internship system caters to more privileged students. Those living at home can afford to take a break from full-time employment and undergo training.
Students with money can easily pay for the transportation fees necessary to work for free out of an office in the city.
And these students do deserve the opportunity to grow their skills. But so do those who can't afford such luxuries. Employers need to start keeping them in mind.
They can start by making interning more accessible to everyone.
With technology today, there is no reason the majority of internships can't be completed remotely. It would cut transportation fees and give students leeway in regards to their hours.
But more importantly, we need to lose the mindset that interning is the only way into a given field. There are so many better ways to judge job candidates.