Unpaid internships offer experience

February 7, 2013 6:00 AMComments Off

Story by Katie Ericson

The Times-Delphic has published several articles on internships: how to find them, how to get them and who has one. However, there has not been an article debating whether internships are worthwhile. Yes, you can gain work experience from having an internship, but recently there has been much debate about whether the experience outweighs being an unpaid intern.

Many internships are now unpaid which creates a lot of problems. For one, it limits the accessibility of internships since only those who can afford a summer out of pocket can apply. Even if someone who plans to take a second job applies, their chance of getting the paid job is lower, and they will not get as much out of their internship.

However, some students have found ways around this. Junior Larissa Wurm is interning with the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus Staff, and it is her third unpaid internship.

“Ideally, of course, I would love to be paid; What college student wouldn’t? But I won’t pass up on a chance for a good experience.”

For Larissa, the internship is much more about being involved in politics and learning about the process, than about getting paid.

First-year Emily Enquist has found a bit of a compromise. She is currently working for the Des Moines After School Arts Program (ASAP) and the LS2 group. The second internship is paid while the first is not.

“I decided to work for ASAP because I’m extremely passionate about philanthropy and community service, and I wanted to work for LS2 group because I feel that it is a really great starting point (for) my career.”

With these two internships, Enquist has managed to find work that is both promising for her future and fulfilling in the present.

Unpaid internships work for some students. However, many are now challenging the idea of unpaid internships. The Charlie Rose Show is paying 189 former interns $1,100 for minimum wage violation. More lawsuits have been raised up against the Hearst Corporation and Fox Entertainment. Fox is now paying its interns as a result, and so is Condé Nast.

So the question is: Are unpaid internships really worth it? Enquist had some advice.

“I would say that students should not reject an internship just because it is unpaid, because it could help you land a great job in the future,” Enquist said.

Experts agree that the deciding factor for an unpaid internship is whether it will ultimately aid you in your professional goals or not.

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