"Unpaid internships have become the norm for college graduates, and though there are benefits, at what point are these benefits outweighed by drawbacks?"
Graduating from college and beginning a career should be a time of celebration for everyone, but these momentary feelings of accomplishment are often quickly dampened by the cold, harsh realities of the professional world.
The offer of free labour can, understandably, be impossible to resist for an employer, but limits have to be set, and guidelines have to be met.
In a perfect world, unpaid internships would be possible for everyone, but college fees, rent and living expenses sometimes make accepting these positions impossible.
This leads to graduates from more privileged families gaining the most from these unpaid positions, and graduates from less privileged families, the more common demographic, missing out on opportunities for experience.
These offers of opportunity and experience are advertised as the main benefits of accepting an unpaid internship, but more often than not, interns are forced to undertake the more menial tasks, deemed to be below the level of paid staff.
While this is understandable to a degree, why is it acceptable that a person is rewarded with unskilled work for giving their time, free of charge?
Networking and making connections are one of the most valuable assets for anyone embarking on a career, and are certainly a benefit offered in terms of unpaid internships. However, do these benefits warrant a lack of pay?
Paid staff enjoy these benefits, so why are they considered an entitlement for paid staff and a ‘perk’ for unpaid staff?
In some cases, unpaid internships can lead to full-time, paid employment, but this is not always the case. For those in unpaid internships, this offer of full-time, paid employment can seem like the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is not guaranteed and is not always offered.
People can leave unpaid internships with no paying job, with little experience under their belt and often leave feeling as though they have wasted their time, or better yet, have had their time wasted.
The workload can be heavy, as with any paid or unpaid job, but when an intern is inundated with work and tasks that don’t fall under their expertise or job description, when is it time to take a stand?
These unpaid positions are not only harmful to workers, but can also damage the reputation of an employer and their respective business.
Turnaround can reach high levels, with unpaid interns being hired to replace paid workers, which leads to a sense of distrust and in turn reduces employee morale.
There are a number of businesses that promote equal opportunity, and offer unpaid interns the experience and opportunities that are deserved, but these businesses seem to be few and far between.
Taking into account the fact that unpaid internships appear to be the new entry-level position, do college graduates throughout the country have no choice but to accept these positions?
To hear one student's opinion on why they agree with unpaid internships, just click here.