Tag Archives: LA Times

Conflicting Opinions

15 Mar

My friend Megan sent me a great article from the LA Times this morning about the popularity of unpaid internships which brought up a lot of conflicting feelings.  The article introduces Ashley, a hardworking unpaid intern, who works her butt off but gets no financial compensation, and is 40 years old! As a recent graduate and former intern, I can very much relate to the feeling of working for nothing with the hope that something might come along and how demeaning it can feel. But this story put my last few months into a much clearer perspective.  Here is a woman at 40 who is having to do the same menial tasks that I am asked to do as a fresh graduate. This woman has years of experience on me, and  yet she is still filing papers and doing errands just like the rest of us. WOW!

So as I am sitting at my desk, sick and whining on my facebook about how I want to go home, I am reminded me that I am one of the lucky ones! I got a job, I had to work for it, but that work paid off, and I even probably had it easier than most. So thank you LA Times for putting me in my place, and reminding me to just be grateful.

But this article also points out how companies are taking advantage of interns.  I know first hand that it is extremely easy for companies to take advantage of these eager youngsters, and most of the time companies don’t even realize they are doing it. As this is becoming the reality for most recent graduates, colleges and universities need to educate about what grads should expect from an unpaid internship. There needs to be a clear understanding of  what is reasonable “menial work” and what is abusing the privilege of free labor.

The next problem comes when a intern recognizes they are being used improperly. How does the intern solve a conflict with a company that has the power to choose or not choose to give them a job in which they are desperate for? The answer is easy, they don’t, the intern just shuts their mouth, and deals with it. But that sucks!

I’m conflicted. I am grateful that internships give people a way of getting their foot in the door (me being one of them), while at the same time I am really angry that more times than not, these interns are being turned into personal errand boys without a voice. Where is the middle ground and who is the moderator?

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