Unlike many my age, I actually scored a job this summer that allows me to work in my desired field. I'm interning at a rather large radio station in my home state, and I'm thrilled that I'll be getting hands-on experience in the field I want to use to change the world.
But believe it or not, the opportunity to learn hands-on is in jeopardy for many like me. See, my internship, like many, is unpaid. I work for them for free, and in exchange they give me valuable experience that I will be able to use in the very near future to land a job in the highly competitive radio market.
See, Obama's labor department has red-flagged the avid internship market as "hazardous to the job market."
A recent New York Times article has the story. "'If you're a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren't going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,' said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department's wage and hour division."
All internships, Leppink says, must meet six criteria put forth by the federal government—among them, the mandate that the company offering the internship "derives no immediate advantage" from the intern's work. Looking over the list, most likely the organization offering the internship would do so to its own detriment, rather than their benefit.
The New York Times article comes accompanied with several horror stories of students who spent their entire internships making coffee or in the shipping room. But, they say, there are plenty of interns who have had healthy, educational experiences, even while their work benefited their supervisors.
The truth is, internships are meant to be a symbiotic relationship. An employer gains the benefit of free labor, and the intern gains invaluable education and experience he would get nowhere else. Yes, the first few weeks the intern may simply be making coffee, sweeping floors, or taking out the trash, but it's just a matter of proving whether or not you're reliable and responsible enough to remember your boss's favorite coffee or that there's three trashcans in the office and not two. It's all a far cry from the exploitation claimed by the administration.
Further, if organizations are forced to pay for former unpaid internships, those internships will dry up faster than a fat kid eats chocolate cake. It's the same principle as minimum wage. Employers only have so much money to budget for their employees, and it's unlikely they'll be willing to pay a wet-behind-the-ears college student for three months of work, especially if they come in with no experience whatsoever.
Without internships, how on earth am I, and countless other students hoping to find work in an increasingly ugly job market, supposed to get my foot in the door without internships? How am I supposed to gain experience? But once again, the federal government, in trying to fix one problem, is creating a much worse one.
…but it gets funnier…
Thanks to the hotair.com article for bringing this to my attention.