The Internship Racket

March 9, 2008

There’s a nice piece from Anthony Paletta in (found in the Dallas News of today) that looks at a recent policy at Dartmouth University to offer scholarships for internships.

Anthony Paletta has a particular take on credited internships that may lead this website to review its tolerance towards them:

Colleges have underpinned internship inequalities from the start, in offering academic credit for unpaid internships – the academic credits that they offer provide businesses a shield against labor laws. Why not stop offering the credit?

He also questions the practice of certain colleges to replace academic education with a few months of learning on the job.

Do colleges really want to codify a system in which employers value a few months of summer work more than the education they provide?

Considering that a degree is 4 years and a career lasts around 35 years, it’s worth questioning whether you should reduce the former in favour of the latter. There’s a larger discussion on the purpose of education – forming minds or workers – that we won’t have here.

Several people have commented on the article, arguing that internships provide useful experience to students who prepare to enter the job market. They seem to miss the point. Of course internships do – any job experience does. So why should it be un(der)paid? Why should it replace education? Why can’t it be part of the benefits of the first job?

One of the commenter, Barb Labuer, writes what sounds like music to our ears:

The basic problem with internships is that they’re unnecessary. Whatever valuable learning students gain from a semester of unpaid work can just as easily be gained from paid work after they graduate. The only reason employers ask for internships is that they reduce the cost of training entry-level employees. This process used to be called “your first real job.”

This pretty much sums up the point of this website. I’ve never read any valid rebuke to this argument.