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The Cost Students Pay for Unpaid Internships

College campuses not only encourage students to participate in internships, but most colleges require students to have at least one unpaid internship to graduate. However, unpaid internships do not pay the bills. 

Unpaid internships allow companies to save money, benefiting from unpaid labor the students provide, leaving students struggling financially. 

On college campuses today over 40% of undergraduates are working while receiving an education. Full-time college students who are working while supporting themselves and paying for their education do not have the luxury, resources, or time to take on a second unpaid job. 

While internships are valuable to students and the experience can carry over into future jobs, the only students who are able to accept internships are those who have financial support to land back on during an internship. 

A study done by the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transition found that, “64% of non-interns did not pursue one due to intersecting obstacles including the need to work, heavy course loads, and a lack of opportunities in their disciplines.” 

Out of the students that did pursue and were offered internships, 56% were not able to accept the internships because of class and work overload. 

UTC senior Lauren Pruett was one semester away from obtaining her degree in special education but is now having to enroll in summer classes to complete her internship in order to graduate. 

“I don’t have the financial means to do an unpaid internship during the semester while working. The only option I have now is summer school which means I’m graduating later and paying the school more tuition,” Pruett said. 

The increasingly popular unpaid internship allows multimillion-dollar corporations to utilize free labor while contributing to the corporate system.

Former United Nations intern, David Leo Hyde, speaks on why the unequal system of unpaid internships must be stopped. 

“People with paid internships managed to double their prospects of getting a job offer. While those who did unpaid work had virtually the same chance as those who didn’t do an internship at all,” stated Hyde.

Hyde encourages students to reject these internships and search for fair alternatives and encourages corporations to realize the value of these students.

UTC offers students free career guidance counseling through The Center for Career and Leadership Development.

The Center for Career and Leadership Development is located on the 3rd floor of the University Center in room 317. Their office hours are from 8:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M.

About Lexington Ortner

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