By: Reyna Gobel MBA, MJ
Unpaid internships are one of the separators between the opportunities of the have and have nots in the U.S., according to Ron Leiber at The New York Times. I’m enrolled in a Master’s of Public Health program in Nutrition at the City University of New York. Qualified classmates avoid the registered dietician internship program because of lack of funds. The internship is unpaid, and they aren’t independently wealthy. Plus, the internship being unpaid eliminates economic diversity among nutritionists. How are we supposed to get nutritionists that understand different communities?
I was an unpaid intern for D Magazine in Dallas and at American Airlines. I borrowed student loans and worked an extra job. Was the experience worth it for me? Yes. Would the experience have been better without accruing debt for working? Yes.
Here’s the latest from The White House paying interns, from College Parents of America on getting the full value out of any internship, and from highlights from Ron Leiber’s The New Your Times article on what internships are and aren’t paid.
For Fall 2022, the White House’s interns will be paid for the first time. Payment is for a 14-week program for undergrad and graduate students. The deadline to apply for the internship is June 24th. Other federal agencies are encouraged but not required to pay interns.
Other Stats in Ron Leiber’s Article
Leiber also sites mentions just how many students are and would like to be interns. “Amid this squishiness, employers have seen fit to put people to work in about one million unpaid internships per year, according to an estimate from the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,” according to Leiber. 67 percent of individuals surveyed from the same center would like to be interns.
He mentions Handshake that lists paid and unpaid internships. While the site boasts three quarters of postings are paid, the rest aren’t. “The three worst fields are nongovernment organizations (just 17 percent of internship postings are paid); politics (27 percent); and movies, TV and music (30 percent),” says Leiber. “The fourth is journalism, media and publishing, with 32 percent of Handshake’s internship listings in that category paid.” Some newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times do pay interns.
Every financial decision around education and careers should be a considered part of and long-term planning. I’m a big fan of career services for guidance on internships and doing shadow days. Shadow days can take a few hours and give you a chance to talk to people in your field one-on-one and find out about their careers. You can also network at professional organizations. You may find paid internships or opportunities that make sense for your career. Stand up for yourself and express your skills and finances to both potential employers and career services. You might find a part-time job that’s labeled in a different way that’s paid where an internship isn’t. For instance, Chicago Magazine, where Ron Leiber was offered an unpaid internship, now pays interns but calls the job a research assistant.
Begin your career working on all your skills including negotiation.