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Unpaid Internships: Only for the Upper Class

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: unpaid internships are meant to benefit financially stable students, and those students only. Living in Charleston, where the rent is expensive and the minimum wage is low, makes it hard for a student who is paying their own way through school to gain the experience they might need for a future job via an internship. Let’s say I was working at a part-time job on King Street making $9 an hour, paying around $800 for rent each month. There’s no way I would be able to afford to spend the necessary fifteen to twenty hours a week at an unpaid internship needed to fulfill the College of Charleston's internship course requirements while still being able to each week. Without extensive external support, it seems pretty impossible for a student to make ends meet while still working toward experience in their preferred field. In my personal experience, my internship wasn’t even worth the amount of paid work I was missing. I spent three weekdays sitting around, creating excel spreadsheets, basically doing busy work and diving into the communal mason jars of peanut m&m’s. I had to work every weekend, and pick up a second job at night in order to make up for the time I spent working at my internship for three measly credit hours. To make it worse, the College of Charleston actually made ME pay $1,500 for the internship “course” plus summer school fees when I didn’t step on campus all summer. This is just one person’s experience, though I know I am not alone when I say that unpaid internships are both classist and inherently filter out the impoverished people out of the experienced of a job of skill. Here's one tweet I spotted when silently wracking my brain with the idea of how classist unpaid internships are:

This tweet points out the fact that marginalized groups, such as the poor, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ+ community are much more unlikely to be able to gain experience via unpaid internships because of the financial aspect of it all.

However, some Twitter users disagree with those who have very strong feelings against unpaid internships, stating that unpaid internships provide you with experience, which is apparently more important than being able to afford silly things like rent or food.

The way I see it, based on my own experience, I think that someone could gain the same experience from an internship while being paid a livable wage. Education and experience should not be sacrificed just because of financial instability.  

 

 

Senior at the College of Charleston. English major and professional napper. I enjoy eating lots of food while laying on the couch binge watching the Office or Game of Thrones.
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