By: Neil Frawley
The question isn’t “should internships be paid?” It’s “should all internships be paid?” The answer is no.
Get beyond the notion that a degree equals a job, and a paying one, too. This isn’t our parents’ generation. The job market is flooded with degree holding post-graduates with good enough GPAs and enough extracurricular activities that make it hard for employers to distinguish one from another.
So, employers need other ways to determine the people actually worthy of a job from the sea of all seemingly worthy candidates. The best method is to give out unpaid internships.
It allows employers the chance to see who really wants to work and who the employer can really trust to be a valuable asset to the company.
You might think, “Well that makes sense, but I could still show that while making money, too.” While that may be true, if an employer has 20 people showing up for an internship and the employer only expects to hire maybe two of them, it doesn’t make sense for the employer to throw money at people he or she doesn’t intend to hire.
But consider this: The employer can afford to pay the two candidates that get hired more than other workers because he or she didn’t pay the other 18 people for a full year. The employer may be able to give those people $15-$20 per hour. Now add in the factor that the employer trusts you as a valuable member of his or her staff and that you have as good of a first job as you’re ever going to find.
The point of this is not to say that you shouldn’t take a paid internship if you get one. Obviously, money is good and you should try to get a good paying job as quickly as you can. But at the same time, I’m also saying you should do what feels right and not let money be the reason you turn down an awesome opportunity that leads to something more worthwhile for you.
Think about why you picked to come to VSU. Think about why you chose your major, and the path that you’ve dreamt about as you’ve worked all those frustrating late nights in the library and spent all your money on coffee, not for the enjoyment, but because you needed it.
Now think about what you want when you graduate. Do you really want to put all that to waste by taking the first job you get, even if it’s not in your best interest? You wouldn’t pick your college like that. You wouldn’t pick your degree for that. So do you really want to choose the next 30-45 years like that?