Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are You a Part of the Intern Nation?

I just finished reading the book Intern Nation by Ross Perlin and it was certainly interesting to say the least! This book is basically the first exposé about the world of internships. It delves into the "darker" side of internships to debate what is actually legal vs. illegal and to discuss the widening gap between those who can afford to do internships and those who cannot.

Now, full disclosure: this book is NOT for everyone. The author has some strong opinions on internships (he is a former intern himself, FYI) and I don't agree with everything that he says. However, we have all either had a bad internship experience, or have heard about one. Regardless of your individual view on internships, the system for interns in America is definitely flawed and can use many changes. Either way, I feel that this book is a must-read for future/current/former interns because it is important to be knowledgeable about this industry that we are a big part of.

What I personally found most interesting about the book was the discussion of those who can afford to do internships, especially ones that are unpaid, and those who cannot. Many of our peers are missing out on gaining the valuable experience that we have because they (and their families) simply don't have the money to fund poorly paid, or more likely unpaid, internships. The author states that internships may be the best way to launch a career but those who cannot afford it may, "languish in an underworld of menial, low-wage work, trapped under a new glass ceiling or spirited away from particular professions. Internships are dividing us." He also speculates that today's interns will control critical professions and hold the top positions of power, while those who did not get the opportunity to intern will, "remain trapped in the basement of American life."

Although the author feels that the interning system needs serious changes, he does recognize the idea that internships are no longer an option - they are a necessity! That is something that I certainly felt throughout college and even more so and I come closer to graduation. I'm hoping that all of my internships and experience pays off in the end and that I am able to land an amazing job that I love!

What are your views on the current American internship system?

1 comment:

  1. Unpaid internships should be illegal. I know that some employers say that if they had to pay interns, then they couldn't have interns. And the intern is getting good experience, making connections, and college credit instead, so it is a good trade off. I might buy this for small shops, but for big employers I think that is a load of crap. I mean, any company that can pay its executives millions can afford to pay its interns $8 an hour. But the free internship system allows employers to totally take advantage of the interns. Didn't we abolish free labor back in the 1850s? And the most egregious unpaid internship of them all is the student teacher. No, not because the education system is rolling in money. It is egregious because it is a graduate level internship. What other graduate level internship is unpaid? Answer: NONE! But because public education is perpetually underfunded, paying student teachers will never happen.