Full-time work for no pay? Sign me up!

I’m going into my last year of college, and if you believe the rhetoric my peers and I hear from the career center and from a lot of potential employers, my options look pretty bleak…

1) Grad school (because 16 years of being a student just isn’t enough for me! Please, put me in more debt!)

2) McDonald’s, data entry, etc.

3) An unpaid internship

I first started hearing about unpaid internships at the end of high school, and I never really liked the idea. You say I’ll gain “experience” and “connections” from performing menial labor and/or research for a little-known company, full time, for free? Something doesn’t sound right.

I don’t have to pontificate any more on this, because other bloggers have already done it better. I’m just glad people are beginning to question this suddenly familiar institution in intelligent ways. Tim Barker’s Privilege and Exploitation in the Intern Nation is a great exploration of the circumstances that created the sudden ubiquity of internships. (Thanks to Taylor over at Prospect Blog for this one.) And, if you prefer slightly more blunt language, check out Calling Bullshit on Unpaid Internships by Stu Curry — completely on target about the various reasons internships don’t actually benefit graduates, you know, at all.

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