Yes, some people and some companies really need the extra hand and cannot afford to have a paid employee to do the work that needs to be taken care of. However, it seems that more and more companies are offering internships for little-to-no pay at all. Some of them offering minimum wage to college graduates and so on.
When you come from wealth and privilege, often, an unpaid internship is a promising opportunity to expand your network and get a head start on your career. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for many of us.
Some college graduates accrue immense amounts of debt, barely being able to graduate college simply because they could barely afford it.
Others simply cannot afford to work for free, even if they don’t have a debt burden.
Some college graduates, even students, have been on their own for a long time and don’t have parents as an economic support system to provide for food, rent, and transportation expenses.
This raises a serious dilemma, and more and more college students/graduates are facing the downsides of it. Because paid internships are highly coveted and less available, they are much more competitive and harder to attain.
But how else do you gain experience?
Employers look for extensive internship experience from college graduates as a must, but when you’re in college and making money over breaks is a priority – you have to take what you can get sometimes. This’ll sometimes mean that instead of working for a high-end, well-respected company in your field, sometimes you’ll have to be working a retail job or serving ice cream at a small business in the town where you live.
All work experiences have something you can learn from, and no student or individual should be undermined for having jobs like the latter – but we all know that this isn’t the case. Many times, the applicant that has the internship experience, whether it be paid or unpaid gets the job.
America, we have a problem. All job experiences, and the diverse backgrounds that make each of us unique should be valued when holistically and comprehensively looking at candidates for a job.
If our society and our workforce continue to undermine students, graduates, and candidates who do not have the “ideal” job experiences due to socioeconomic circumstances, it will be difficult to see progress and break the perpetuity of privilege not only in the workforce but in our society as a whole.