Sunday, May 29, 2011

When Internships Get Ridiculous

As a recent intern, I was intrigued by this article about how many interns (or potential interns) are out there.
The article's author, fellow aspiring writing intern Jacob Sugarman, says that at least half of the internships in America are in violation of the labor laws.  I really wish we could get someone on this sort of work, like a website and list of violators, because I would personally love to not support intern-exploiting companies.
What is most disheartening is how many internships most of my friends have to take to get work.  I have a friend who graduated with a 3.8 from Michigan State in a good program and two internships already under her belt.  And what has she done in the two plus years since graduating?  She's had another two internships, a part time job that refused to promote her to full time (or even pay her time and a half when she worked overtime), and seasonal work.  She's worked in three different states, and all on a temporary basis.  At one point, she was working in two different states at the same time, spending four days a week in one state at one job, driving an hour and a half to another job she'd spend the other three days of the week at.  The saddest part of this story?  She has a bachelor's of science. 
The "internship problem" is part of a larger problem with workers and the workforce.  All sorts of data is out about how good the economy is or how much it's improving.  And yet the employment rate doesn't change nearly as much.  Businesses know that employees and potential employees are desperate.  They'll willing to work for less than their worth, or without benefits, or for longer hours, with less vacation time, etc.  They're cowed, because the system is inherently set up against them.  And they're getting away with it.
Maybe the next time the government offers a bailout, they'll think about who benefits and who doesn't when a handout is giving to businesses instead of citizens.   

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