The Evolution of Interns

Forbes had an interesting article about the Evolution of Interns back in April. It starts with a fundamental question:

Almost everyone seems to agree that an internship is a valuable part of career development. But if you were in college before the 1980s, chances are you never did anything called interning. So where did the experience come from, and how did it become such a seeming necessity for today’s future job-seekers?

This is an answer to all those who claim that internships are necessary to gain experience before entering the job market formally. If it were the case, unfair internships wouldn’t be a recent invention. First experience on the job market is earned with a first job, which comes with a salary. And the gain of experience never stops from then on.

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2 Responses to The Evolution of Interns

  1. Maryann says:

    That is definitely true that before internships were created everyone gained their experience from their first job onward. However, people also only made phone calls from land lines before the invention of the cell phone, got around by horse & carriage before the invention of the car, and so on.

    There are most certainly unscrupulous employers who provide internships with no benefit to the intern – no pay, menial tasks in which they learn nothing, etc.

    There are also genuine internships in which the person may, or may not receive pay (whether in the form of a stipend or not) – but they do benefit from valuable experience. Experience in practical application that they otherwise would not learn in the classroom. And, experience that they can add to their resume to set themselves apart from other applicants for future jobs.

    With the internet being so available to both students and employers, a whole new world is opening up to interns and the employers who hire them. I believe this will truly change the way internships are looked at to a more positive light.

  2. exintern says:

    Thanks for your constructive engagement.

    The fact that internships have evolved is not brought up to demonstrate that things are getting worse, but to show that an internship has not always been a condition to gaining initial work experience – an argument often brought up by supporters of unfair internships. I don’t see it as a gain in productivity or, if it is one, its distributive aspect is skewed against the vulnerable.

    The pay that comes in the form of a gain in experience is not a reason to deny them pay if they contribute. Any employee gains experience daily throughout his career. They are not paid because they do not gain experience, but because they contribute to the bottom line. That is why interns who contribute should be paid and this is how the law is written.

    I do hope that the Internet will help to mobilize interns who are victims of unfair internships and I see it happening. I fear, however, that it also makes them more interchangeable and hence more vulnerable.

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