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Unpaid internships unjustly exploit college students

We have resumes to fill, but we also have student debt to pay — everyone should be compensated for labor

· Apr 19, 2017 Tweet

Courtesy of Bryce Richter, University Communications

After high school, students struggle in the increasingly competitive college application process. They are then ransacked by life-altering debt. You would think, at the very least, their college experience would get them a job, especially while they are still enrolled in and paying for school. But companies around the country have found the key to exploiting students and receiving high quality labor: unpaid internships.

Unpaid internships are unfair and unjust. College students are highly educated and motivated, especially those seeking internships. These students are helping out companies in many of the same ways an employee would, so why aren’t they being paid? Experience is great, but it does not pay for groceries nor help to accumulate savings for future investments.

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I believe this phenomenon really boils down to the lack of respect older generations have for this generation. Though studies are released and data is published time and time again disproving myths, people have strongly held beliefs that millennials are lazy, self-absorbed idiots. The negative stereotypes surrounding millennials are unfounded and simply untrue.

There are people of every age, race and gender who are going to be lazy. But as a generation, millennials are not. There is so much more to us than the generation who grew up in front of a screen and received participation trophies (which, side note, were not an idea of millennials but of our parents).

We are in college, working full-time jobs, doing research, having children and wanting to live a secure and happy life like the generations before us. We want be paid and join the workforce and even buy a house. But these seemingly expected rewards of getting a degree and working hard are hard to come by.

This lack of respect and acknowledgement for young adults fuels the acceptance of the unpaid internship. In the older generations’ eyes, college students don’t need or even deserve to be paid.

This is absolutely absurd because people deserve to be paid for their labor at any age. Not only do students who participate in unpaid internships deserve to be paid, they need to be paid in order to lighten the burden of their seemingly insurmountable debt they acquired to become a college student.

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As ridiculous as it sounds, college students are basically paying to work an unpaid internship.

A reasonable solution to this issue would be for a student to find a paying job instead of an unpaid internship, but it is not that simple. In order to be a qualified candidate for graduate school or the competitive job market, it almost essential to participate in an internship. The only way to truly fix the issue is for society and employers at large to start respecting young people, and paying them for their work.

Stacey Sukoff ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in psychology.