In a job market where many entry-level jobs are asking for a minimum of five years of experience, simply getting a degree is not always good enough to get you that job after graduation.
On top of all the classwork that is needed to graduate, students are also expected to be involved with extracurriculars and internships.
At the beginning of 2018, the U.S. Labor Department made it easier for companies to hire unpaid interns, requiring the internship to meet at least one of seven determining factors like it “would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment” or “complement, not displace, the work of paid employees.”
While many unpaid intern- ships do o er valuable experience and a chance to learn more about one’s given field before actually entering it, the very idea of unpaid internships excludes students who are independent from their parents or caregivers or who struggle financially.
Almost 40 percent of college students enrolled at a university in fall 2018 are over the age of 25, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With more college students enrolling later in life and the average cost of college rising, it has become increasingly difficult for students to take an unpaid internship.
If someone took an unpaid summer internship at 40 hours a week for 12 weeks, he or she would be missing out on $5,280 before taxes at California’s $11 an hour minimum wage.
Many students could have children, spouses, off campus apartments or houses and bills he or she needs to pay, so the flexibility to take a job without pay is not an option.
This also means that many students who pay their own way through college could not a ord to spend that much time at an unpaid internship. Most
students in this situation would sooner take a job that paid their bills, regardless of if it was in their field or not.
In addition, if the internship is counted as college credit, students are actually paying part of their tuition money to work at their internship.
These exclusive opportunities that many students could not afford to take are for privileged students who are fortunate enough to be able to afford to work for free. With this job market, having experience in your field before you graduate is more of a necessity rather than an advantage. However, it is not treated as such.
To truly give equal opportunities to all students internships need to offer their interns monetary compensation and not just claim experience is enough compensation.