The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Unpaid internships are lame to expect from people

Annie+Spratt%2FUnsplash
Annie Spratt/Unsplash

KEYLA HOLMES
campus editor
keyla.holmes@my.tccd.edu

Interns matter. Their work matters. As different aspects of workplace culture shift, treating interns as people who have something amazing to offer by ensuring their being compensated for their work, has to become a normality. While many of us may already feel this way, it officially needs to exist in our past. 

Telling those who may be deciding whether to accept an unpaid internship that the experience will somehow make up for the lack of pay, is ridiculous. Experience is a great teacher, and yes, I think that networking and collaborating with others in your future desired work space is invaluable. However, interns should be paid for their time, effort, and contribution to a company or organization. Like their colleagues, they are deserving of compensation. 

Unpaid internships serve those who are financially able to work without pay. Many college and university students aren’t able to essentially work for free. It’s a system that benefits those who are able to build career changing relationships without having to stress over receiving a paycheck. 

I recently read an opinion piece in The New York Times about internships that eloquently put my thoughts and feelings into words. The author, Darren Walker, said, “talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.” Those who don’t have a head start on building connections due to the relationships their parents have forged are at a disadvantge. 

Prior to me having my first internship last summer, I more so saw it as a bummer to potentially not get paid. I felt like if I had the opportunity to gain experience doing my dream job, I’d be happy. Sure – I may also have to work another job, maybe in the food or retail industry in order to bring in some money, but overall I didn’t see it as a red flag. 

During my paid internship I remember being in the car with some colleagues at the time who were kind enough to share a little about their journeys in different work environments, and how they got their start. 

In that car I was told that my work and time are valuable, and should always be treated as such. They made sure I understood that while experience is great, it’s not unreasonable to want to be paid as an intern. It’s not asking for too much.  

It was so important for me to hear that. I felt like because of my lack of experience I should be grateful for an internship. I viewed pay as a bonus. I just wanted to be doing what I loved in a professional space where I could be supported by people I could look up to. While I was grateful, that conversation broadened my horizons. 

The thing is – internships do that. They open up doors and cultivate new ways of thinking and approaching issues. They not only can teach you things that will help you succeed in your career, but also in your personal life. My internship gave me the opportunity to, right out of highschool, practice work-life balance, and develop confidence in my abilities.  

For students to potentially miss out on such a great opportunity to grow because they can’t afford an unpaid internship doesn’t just hurt the individual, but causes American work spaces to miss out on future leaders.

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