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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Unpaid internships hurt college students

Tara Miller
Tara Miller

Unpaid internships are the works of the devil.

In this day and age, the vast majority of college students cannot afford to spend their time working for free during the summer or the school year — especially when they are already spending so much money on their education.

But employers expect students to have internships. And these days, most organizations don’t want to pay their interns, even though unpaid work is almost like slavery.

According to a study by Millennial Branding and Experience, Inc., more than 90 percent of employers think that students should have between one and two internships before they graduate.

Of course, having unpaid internships will always look good on a resume, and they will help students get better jobs a lot easier. In reality, unpaid internships are more like volunteer work.

They both do the same thing. They each involve large amounts of work, but the students get nothing in return except experience and the chance to add an item to their resume.

But not everyone is convinced that unpaid internships are a bad idea, said Nona Willis Aronowitz, a NBC News contributor. intern

“Some proponents defend them as valuable opportunities, particularly those that truly provide training,” she said.

Although there are people who defend unpaid internships, there aren’t many advantages to being an unpaid intern.

According to a 2011 National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, unpaid internships provide no advantage in terms of full-time job offer rates or starting salary, while paid internships provided a substantial advantage.

During this past summer, unpaid interns who worked on the film “Black Swan” went to court against their employer, Fox Searchlight Pictures. The judge declared the interns are actual employees that should have been paid, according to a Businessweek article.

Unpaid internships give students much-needed experience before they go on to get an actual job. But why waste time doing work without getting paid when students can do that as volunteer work? Plus, many courses required for different majors give students the chance to gain the skills that they need to get jobs later on.

As a public relations major, for example, I have the chance to work both on The Orion and for Tehama Group Communications, where I get the hands-on skills that I need for my career later on. Without having to get an unpaid internship, I am able to gain the skills I need and gain credits toward graduation.

Having an unpaid internship is definitely something that shouldn’t be encouraged because of the negative impact it  has on students.

For help with finding paid internships, visit the Chico State Career Center in the Student Services building, room 270, or simply search for paid internships on or The University Foundation is also another good resource for paid internships.


Tara Miller can be reached at [email protected] or @chicojournalist on Twitter.

Illustrations by Liz Coffee.

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