Editorial: Workers’ comp

Unpaid internships are a luxury many students simply cannot afford.

Internships have grown to be synonymous with the collegiate experience. They are a source of conversations, summer plans and even newspaper columns. Their influence has become even more prominent in these troubling economic times, as they can provide soon-to-be job seekers a way to wedge themselves into the minds – and hopefully payrolls – of employers.

The intentions of these students is warranted as evidenced by a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which revealed that 61.2 percent of paid interns working in for-profit sector positions received job offers at graduation, compared to just 33 percent who did not have any internships. The survey and other internship-related statistics are reported on in greater detail by John Moritz on P. 1.

What is troubling is that the percentage of unpaid interns who received job offers upon graduation was 38 percent, only 5 percentage points greater than those lacking any internship experiences and training.

This further increases the competition for paid internships. Not everyone can receive one of these most desirable positions, but not everyone can tolerate the circumstances of an unpaid internship.

To reiterate, the present economic situation this country faces is dire. In lieu of a paid internship, the 5-percentage-point enhancement of employment odds an unpaid position can supply certainly is desirable. But many do not enjoy the type of fiscal security necessary to accept an unpaid internship. Because of this, unpaid internships function essentially as forms of workplace discrimination, relegating the cash-strapped to mere onlookers.

The Temple News understands that some students have few, if any, paid internship opportunities available and must decide between full-time employment and a full-time unpaid internship. Such students are encouraged to carefully evaluate their available prospects and decide what suits their best interests both in the present and the years beyond, when they leave Temple’s nest.

The Temple News would also like to encourage students to look out for exploitative practices in any unpaid internships they may accept. If you are contributing work that is helping your employer profit, you deserve to be compensated for it.

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