During summer break, students have historically been known to work local jobs such as: lifeguarding, retail work, movie theater jobs, etc. However, recently that has not been the case. Less and less students are applying for local jobs, instead opting to apply for internships that are usually unpaid. This discrepancy may be confusing to those who do not understand how competitive the job market currently is. For a lot of students, working for free today is seen as an investment for their tomorrow.
Students are told that making connections in their potential job market is much more valuable than the minimum wage. And they realize that there is a very real chance of graduating without a job lined up and no way to repay their insurmountable student debt. While this may be true at times, corporate America has not been un-influential in this new understanding. TYT Network’s Think Tank brushed on this by discussing that in the past decade, internships that were previously paid are now unpaid. Businesses have taken a page out of the book of universities; universities promise a successful future with their degrees, advertising themselves to be the only ticket to success; all that student debt? Well worth it they say. Likewise, companies promise connections and competitive resumes, which have now become additional obstacles students face in order to become “successful.”
The satire of this arrangement is that students unknowingly are making it worse on themselves by competing with each other. There is no ‘students union.’ Students are faced with rivaling with each other for internships that offer nothing but a resume item. But because the job market is so competitive, one line on a resume can make the difference between having a job post-graduation or not. Internships become a self-fulfilling prophecy that encourages this corporate behavior.
Even if a company considers paying their interns, if their competitors don’t, it is impractical to do so themselves. Unfortunately this incongruity is the result of the high demand for work and the increasing supply of students. Unless something changes, the companies and universities will continue to hold all the cards, at the expense of their workers, and students.