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The Problem with Unpaid Interns

Ava Rosario | Writer

Internships are required for many college students now, and most are simply for college credits. The argument is that they get your foot in the door, providing experience that is far more valuable than a wage. But is experience enough anymore?

Let’s say your internship requires 225 hours from February to April. That’s 13 weeks, and almost 20 hours per week. You’re working a part time job for free. Full-time students typically take five classes per semester. I’ll lowball it and say you spend 2 hours on homework and studying for each class, not taking into account that at least one of those classes probably meets twice a week. That’s 10 hours outside of class.

I’ll underestimate the commute, too. 30 minutes there and back.

So you have about 9 1/2 hours left of the 40-hour work week for your actual job. The one where you make the money to stay in school, continue the internship, and just survive.

At $15 an hour, before taxes, you’re looking at about $142 weekly. Car insurance. Gas. Rent…

Experience is not enough anymore. There’s a necessary push for paid internships because working for free isn’t realistic anymore. Prices are rising, and we need to make the necessary adjustments to ensure students gain valuable experience while still being able to support themselves. Micro-internships are an emerging opportunity I suggest all students look into. They’re shorter and paid. It’s a win-win.

To my fellow unpaid interns—stay strong. The change we need is coming.


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