Summer Intern Outlook- Gloomy and Unpaid

    The summer is already half-way over, and while some college students have managed to snag the gig of their dreams, the vast majority are still looking (and HOPING) that the recent recession will ease up long enough to allow them to gain some valuable experience AND pay them for their time and energy. But don't hold your breath. As it stands, while things are improving, it's not getting better fast enough to help thousands of students and grads stuck spinning their wheels.

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the intern field is just beginning to recover from the 20 percent drop that occurred last year. This means that not only are less internship possibilities available, but those dream internships full of parties and real field experience are scarce. In fact, in many fields (if you get a paid internship at all), you're one of the lucky few in the minority. TIME Magazine recently reported that even top members of the Ivy League are being given positions that consist of mainly basic deskwork that most other employees wouldn’t want to do. Even more disheartening is that they’re doing it for free.

Other aspects of the intern experience, while exciting for some, are understandably being pushed aside and cut back. According to that same TIME report, some law firms spent as much as $95,000 on events and fancy corporate dinners for interns in the past, budgets have been slashed almost in half and  which has also hit the hospitality industry hard. From an intern’s point of view, this kind of spending is unecessary (after all, you've been to one party, you've been to 'em all), but it’s fairly certain to say that many interns would rather have some of that cash filtered into their paychecks instead of some cocktails and appetizers.

For some fields, sitting at a desk all day, doing boring work and getting paid “in experience” has been the standard for some time. Others however, are just taking on this gloom and doom outlook as the new custom. And while we all understand wanting to save a few dollars- the excessive parties were a little bit much- it’s still hard to tell whether these programs really help provide interns with valuable experiences or merely make them hopeful and helpless minions of the corporate world.


By Kristy Shaulis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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