College should just be an experience, right? Free of charge; solely a place for absorbing as much knowledge as humanly possible before you go into the workforce. Well, unfortunately, that’s not the case. College sits up there with buying a house as one of the most expensive purchases in life, and normally takes over a decade and a half to save for, sometimes even more.
With that being said, high school and college students, especially those expected to contribute to the tuition costs of their collegiate education, need as much money as they can get before they graduate. However, between school and social life, it’s very difficult for studious college kids to maintain a time-consuming job during the school year. So, they’re forced to work during the summer to try and catch up.
Now this is where things get tricky. During the summer between college years, many college students are forced to choose between unpaid internships, or paid summer jobs. They must choose between resume-building career opportunities, or experience-lacking temporary bank account boosters. With most internships these days being experience only, those who want to obtain training and understanding within their career field, in addition to building valuable connections and relationships, have to forfeit an entire summer worth of cash to do so. And that doesn’t even include the rent they’d have to pay if they’re staying away from their home town. Taking rent into account, the net loss can easily be $5,000. It doesn’t take a business major to recognize that that’s a risky investment.
The solution to this argument is extremely simple: pay summer interns for the work they put in. Although you can’t put a price on experience, asking a summer intern to put in 20 plus hours a week, without pay, is flat-out fraud. Especially those students who genuinely want to be there, and consistently bring a positive energy to the workplace. And if an employer responds with “my interns don’t add any positive spirit to my company,” then you’re not doing a thorough enough job in the interviews. I firmly believe internships are a valuable piece to any college student’s knowledge of their career choice, but I also expect all businesses to correctly compensate their employees.
Paid internships are obviously preferable, if you can get them, and compensation motivates workers. However, if you lack qualifications and are looking at nonprofits or small to medium-size firms, you’ll likely get an offer of an unpaid internship, which could well be in your best interest.