Internships have become a rite of passage in the world of work. Employers who hire new college graduates prefer students with work experience. However, the rules of the game are not level when it comes to opportunities. Unpaid internships promote classism in the labor market.
Classism is when people from a lower social class are treated unfairly compared to those from richer backgrounds. Entry-level positions are not usually your first job in today’s job market. Many of them require work experience, and this is often accomplished through internships. Whether it’s a summer internship or a part-time job throughout the school year, recruiters want potential employees to know what they’re doing. Internships have become a screening method to identify who is qualified and who is not.
This is problematic for many reasons. Competition is fierce between internships as work experience is an expectation for graduates. However, companies cannot afford to hire so many people. In response to this, many companies have started offering unpaid internships.
The idea is that people can get the work experience they need without companies going bankrupt. In theory, it provides a solution to competition; in reality, this means that students in the lower grades cannot afford to enter the workforce.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have to work outside of class to make ends meet, often at minimum wage jobs. Tuition, rent, groceries and gas are expensive. I have friends who work 40 hours a week on top of their studies, and they still struggle to pay for their studies. People in this situation barely have time for the jobs they currently hold, let alone an unpaid internship.
Low-income students simply cannot afford an unpaid internship. This means that they can only apply for paid internships, which are usually more competitive.
In the meantime, students from richer backgrounds can work for free without having to take another job or worry about paying for college. That is, if the parents of these students pay for their college. They can gain experience that prepares them for better jobs after graduation because they won’t be spending time focusing on how they’re going to pay their rent for the next month.
It is not the student’s fault; a person cannot help what socio-economic class he was born into. However, graduates who can afford unpaid internships will be more likely to be hired upon leaving college. According to the Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers place a high value on job applicants with unpaid internship experiences as well as the length and duration. structure of an internship. Their previous experience can also give them a higher salary compared to those with less on their resumes.
This perpetuates the cycle of income inequality. Students who start with less continue to receive less, while students from higher income families will continue to enjoy their privilege.
Income inequality is a complex problem that extends to hundreds of other social problems. Race, location, gender, and countless other factors affect people’s pay, but the only thing students can control, more or less depending on availability, is the type of internship they’re applying for.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 states that all employees of for-profit companies must be paid for their work. However, they do not count interns as employees. Companies should be held accountable for the negative impact of their unpaid internships on society. It’s classist to have internships that only a sector of the population can afford to work on. No one should have to work for free.