In case anyone hasn’t noticed, unpaid internships are bullshit. When I say bullshit I mean bullshit for everyone who is currently living life physically and financially independently from their parents (ie. as “adults“). For those individuals who can afford to live at home and continue suckling from the parental teat, unpaid internships are a cup of tea. I hope companies are aware, though, that they are self-selecting for the most pretentious and entitled among the recently (or not so recently) graduated talent pool.
I mean really, who are these companies kidding?
My recent experiences job hunting in the Bay Area have fostered enough frustrations to write about. I spent time and effort applying to two internship opportunities that sounded incredible. Neither of them specified that the internship was unpaid. I made it halfway through a phone interview for one before the interviewer quickly slipped in that the position was unpaid. I was more than a bit surprised. What was even more surprising was that the interviewer suggested we could “use a loophole” by having me enrolled in a class at a community college which I would “never have to attend” in order to obtain a $1000/month stipend. Which would be totally fine, if I could live off of sunshine and never pay taxes.
Unfortunately, this is reality.
The other internship I’d applied for also turned out to be unpaid (having learned from experience, I inquired about payment via email). Though unpaid the position would offer “oodles of good things including lunches, tickets, breakfasts, and a well-stocked fridge.”
Too bad my roommates wouldn’t be stoked about living in an apartment made of cardboard.
So what’s my moral? I promise this isn’t solely a rant about job hunting. I honestly believe that by offering unpaid internships companies are cheating themselves out of worthy talent. Much more troublingly, they’re teaching us Millenials to undervalue ourselves, and our skills.
Work experience should not come at the cost of self worth.
At the end of the day I might be able to squeak by working an unpaid internship and living off of friends couches. But I’m going to hold out until I find the right company that will value my work with proper compensation, and you should too.