College Brief: Rise of unpaid internships sparks concerns

By Leopoldo Rocha (The Badger Herald, University Of Wisconsin) and By Leopoldo Rocha (The Badger Herald, University Of Wisconsin)

As internship experience increasingly becomes a critical part of college graduates’ search for employment, some have raised concerned about internships in the private, for-profit sector that do not compensate students for their work.

Ross Perlin, author of the recently-published book “Intern Nation,” said in an email to The Badger Herald internships are a “virtual requirement” in today’s job market, a trend that began in the ’80s and has been growing ever since. He argues the system, although it has some positive aspects, is no longer working.

Perlin describes a trend in which interns are no longer being financially compensated for their work, a trend he said has worsened since the financial crisis of 2008. Perlin said about one-third to one-half of all internships are unpaid.

“The recession since 2008 has only made things worse: Paid internships have become unpaid, unpaid interns have advanced at the expense of regular entry-level jobs and new groups are turning to internships (recent graduates, people in their 30s or 40s switching careers, high school students) with a desperation that employers are taking advantage of,” Perlin said.

— By Leopoldo Rocha

(The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin)