Internships provide value even without pay

For those who do not know me, there are few things I ever like to plan.  I like the spontaneity of things, the mystery.  But there has always been one part of life I have planned—my education.

Why should I plan?  Well, because I know I need to.

In the mass chaos of life, I have mapped out my goals and benchmarks to get to where I want to go.

I know I want to be able to take every opportunity to further my career.  I want to be able to know that I have the experiences and qualities I need to be successful.

That is why I have constantly desired to get an internship, even multiple internships, before I graduate.

When I found out that over the past couple of months that something could eventually mess with my plan, most would understand why I would be a just a little irritated.

So what is fooling with this plan of mine?  It is the debate over unpaid internships—a debate that could potentially lead to control over private businesses in the free market.

According to the New York Times, “the Department of Labor says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly.”

This is causing many across the country to ask the question, “Are unpaid internships illegal?”

On the surface, it would seem like a simple answer, but if one looks closer at the major implications, they would realize what forgoing these experiences would leave us with.

In a society where careers ask for experience, one must realize the importance of any type of internship.  Without the practice and knowledge of a career, what company would ever hire anyone?

“Today’s employers will not even look at a student who doesn’t have some type of career experience while in college,” Gary Beaulieu, director of internship and career services at Butler, said.

Beaulieu is right.  I know students just graduating from college from my hometown of Columbus, Ohio that have excellent degrees from excellent universitiesbut they have no job lined up.

Why on earth would this happen to such intelligent students?  It is because they did not get the internship experience to take them to the level an employer needs.

Our classroom learning can only take us so far.

So instead of graduating college with a job, these graduates are trying to complete an internship that will finally make them look good on paper to an employer.

That is not my ideal situation.

I know it is life and my plan might not be perfect, but why not be prepared?  Why not take any kind of internship and be able to have a career in the future?

In a time of economic unrest, when some businesses do not have the money to give out, why should we be complaining?

We are getting valuable experience that could make us money in the future.

“An unpaid experience is absolutely worth it,” Beaulieu said.  “An internship (or other career related experience) should be more about the experience and networking rather than about making money.”

Of course, if I was offered a paid internship over an unpaid internship, I would much rather be paid.

But, if I was stuck with one option, I would want to have the experience, to have something to talk about in an interview.  I would want to be able to prove I was worthy of a job.

“I know that many students would like the pay, even if it is small, but students should think about gaining the experience of being in the professional world,” Beaulieu said.

So let’s review: we get rid of internships, we get rid of experience, but that is not the worst of it.

The main implication could cause what our country has prided itself in—our free market—to start to disintegrate before our very eyes.

If we were to take steps in the direction of this enforcement, the government would essentially interfere with what employers have the right to do, eventually cutting our options for experience in the future.

Not only would this cut our internship options, but this government intervention will only lead to more problems and more control, which will eventually hurt our generation the most.

Jeffery Tucker, editor of mises.org, said “who loses if this crackdown succeeds? The same groups that are winning under the present increase in internships: young people and their employers and would-be employers. “

So if we lose, who wins?

The government does.  They win by taking over our right to private entities, our freedom to control our own businesses.

This increase in government interference seems even more unbearable than working for a free, helpful experience.

With this brewing storm of legal woes, it is something that should be called to the attention of all college students.

Maybe we should get the valuable experience of an internship before the government gets any bigger.

So, next summer, I’ll be applying for as many internships as possible, whether paid or not.


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