Our Voice

Students must pay for real world experience

We exist on a diet of Ramen noodles and tap water. We hang our heads at the bookstore, clutching textbooks that cost half of our month’s rent. We bleed ourselves dry, staying up late hours and studying hard for the classes we pay for. We are typical college students. We are seniors. And, upon our graduation day, many of us will walk across the stage into another $852 tab.
Students who require an internship to graduate must pay to take a three-hour course, called “Internship.” This is mandated by Georgia College.
It’s no secret that our nation’s job market isn’t overflowing with opportunities. College seniors spend the better part of their final year on website after website, scouring the depths of LinkedIn to find work that pays. But, as we are well aware, companies aren’t just inviting the fresh crop of graduates anymore. It doesn’t work like that. The internships we’re all competing for are, for the most part, unpaid.
Companies have gone around monetary payment by using “college credit” as a reward. Often, interns are the office slaves. They’re expected to do the work left at the bottom of the barrel, and that’s fine. That’s what an internship is. But when you have a big slice of the graduating class shelling out an additional chunk of cash to a university just to do that bottom-of-the-barrel job for no money, you have a problem.
It’s like saying, “You’ve completed all the coursework. You’ve passed all the tests. Now pay us an additional $852 to touch your diploma.”
Why make it an extra hurdle? Why enforce a policy that leaves everyone scratching their heads? Even the students who can afford it are perplexed as to why finding an internship in their field of study is costing them obscene amounts of extra money.
Students have gone so far as to sue their employers for unfair treatment. Condé Nast, the parent company behind several magazines including Vogue and GQ, faced a lawsuit in which its interns claimed that the company had completely violated labor laws by paying them less than New York’s minimum wage and working them harder than paid employees.
The result: Condé Nast scrapped its internship program for the Summer 2014 term.
Demanding college credit for internships has put all of us in a bind. If interns feel that they’ve been worked too hard, then precedent states they can file a lawsuit for unfair treatment. If companies use “college credit” as their only form of payment, they’re running the risk of being the object of one of those lawsuits.
We understand that the curriculum requires an internship to better prepare us for the real world. However, a lot of employers won’t even give a resume a second look without previous intern experience because of the competitive nature of the job market. We have to take control of our future, internship credit or not.
It simply boils down to the fact that we can’t afford to spend all that time securing the internship that will get our feet in the doors of our future careers, only to be sideswiped by our university with another $852 bill. We’re trying hard enough as it is to get our ducks in a row before our trek across the stage. The pressure of obtaining the fateful “internship” is made even worse by the fact that it’s the only thing standing between us and our diplomas.
That, and $852.

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