WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2014

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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40 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 4 i couldn't distinguish between surprise, pride, and disgust when I saw my photo spanning the cover of Middlebury College's unpaid internships brochure. Sporting no makeup, sweaty skin, and a ripped hair scarf, my unflattering shot should have been over- looked. Perhaps it wasn't because my arm hung around an undernourished, dark-skinned child I met interning in Ghana last summer. Having grown all too familiar with the white American "save the world" stereotype, I couldn't help but feel my relationship with the child had been exploited. Yet, this photo's backstory aside, I was more bothered by the industry my image now promoted: unpaid internships. According to a 2012 survey, 71 percent of Middlebury's graduating class participated in an internship, 48 percent of which were unpaid. Universities and colleges nationwide boast similar statistics. When interviewed by Forbes magazine, Internships.com CEO Robin Richards reported that, according to a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, only one- third of internships in the United States are paid positions (these internships also receive four times as many applicants as unpaid positions). 1 And the "Internship Economy," as described by WBUR's Tom Ashbrook, is rapidly increasing. A common response to these statistics on my campus? "Internships are just what you have to do, paid or not. You need something to put on your résumé." Free labor, often accompanied by ungodly rent, only to document a title on an accumulating list of "achievements"… To me, something does not add up. On paper, internships seem ideal: the student gains professional experience and establishes roots among potential indus- tries. Who wouldn't want this opportunity? No one: this is the crux of the problem. The unpaid internship "system" exploits college students by replacing paid, entry- level jobs with often illegally unpaid posi- tions dependent on one's connections and ability to pay. While some schools provide funding, it is usually scarce and inadequate, averaging $500 or less. Hence, most students accept- ing unpaid internships must finance their summer "on their own." After combining the cost of meals, transportation, and potential housing, an unpaid summer quickly acquires at least a thousand dollar price tag. Additionally, some unpaid posi- tions necessitate college credit. However, many institutions require students pay tuition up to and exceeding $3,000 to obtain credit for such an "opportunity." More often than not, an intern financing their summer "on their own" directly trans- lates to "Thank God for Mom and Dad." Unpaid Internships [ forum ] L E A H F E S S L E R writer 040-043_WWMa14_forum_internships_v2_WellesleyWeston Magazine 2/1/14 3:24 PM Page 40

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