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Higher Education: Do unpaid internships exploit college students?

Comments: 3

My company pays interns a decent wage. It is true that interns use more manager and coworker time, their work has to be more carefully examined, some lack motivation, etc., but we want to see the good ones come back as excellent employees. If they provide value, pay them fairly. Unpaid internships sometimes make sense. The case in which the internship is in an organization staffed by unpaid volunteers is an example. Or if an intern lacks the ability to make a contribution in a complex field, it is a teaching situation, not work for pay. Internships should always benefit the intern more than the company providing the internship.

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Julie Collins
United Academics-Adjuncts
Fairbanks, AK

Internships are a useful vehicle for college students to experience "real world" work and gain valuable skills. Done properly, an internship can provide the opportunity to forge relationships with professionals and even develop mentors and references for graduate school or future employment There is much to be learned outside the classroom. With the job market so tight, students who take advantage of these opportunities have something extra to offer an employer. Sometimes it's a rare chance to find out what you don't want to do before you've committed time and money to majoring in a field that's not a good fit.

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Monica Weiss
UFT
Jamaica, NY

I was very fortunate as a graduate student at UMass Amherst studying Labor Relations to have done my paid internship at the AFT Headquarters in 1973. A great experience that could not have happened without the AFT's financial support. The internship led to my successful career with AFT affiliates in Massachusetts, Texas, and also with NEA, and some of its state affiliates. I am now with Kansas NEA.

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Ward Symons
Parkville, MO

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