Unfair Internships

So yesterday, I got home from my friend’s house only to find that my laptop, the one I got for college, was dead.  I was already looking to replace it, but I was hoping to decide on the top 3 laptops I’d want and then wait to see what was on sale come Black Friday, but now I am in desperate need of one.  On top of birthdays and Christmas presents, its a lot of money.  And I just bought a sword.

I’m only working part-time, and while its enough to keep me in gas, books, and Chipotle (the three essentials of my life), it’s not enough to move out on my own.  And while I’m working on it, I have no idea how long it’s going to take to get a full time position.

That being said, do you know what’s worse than a part-time job?  Working full time and not getting paid for it.

All of this has probably been said before, but the very idea of unpaid internships are unfair.

1) Free labor.  I am a huge fan of people being paid what they’re worth.  I’m not sure why this is such a difficult concept.  The very idea of capitalism is that people exchange money for goods and services.  If life were free, if even just the basic necessities were free, then people could afford to take jobs for the experience or the love of them.  But if people are still having to pay for their food and rent, their only option is to work a paid job.  Considering gas, people would end up paying to work instead.  Best case scenario, gas is about $20 a week.  Which leads to point number 2.

2) They favor the higher classes.  Capitalism is supposed to be the idea that people get ahead in life by working harder.  In theory, it’s nice to think about, but it isn’t how it works in practice.  College already poses this problem.  People who are already well-off are more likely to go into higher education (realize I’m talking about American capitalism and higher education).  Some people who don’t have the money take out loans or get financial aid, but they fall behind even further when some people can afford to take an unpaid internship whereas others have to take whatever they can get to pay the bills.  I’m saying this as someone who probably could get away with it, and I realize I’ve got a lot of privilege like that.

3)  They make it harder to get paid what you’re worth even when you are getting paid.  For one thing, it’s hard to know how much you’re worth when you’re starting out anyway, but when your first job pays you squat, anything seems better.

There aren’t really good alternatives.  Volunteering is one.  I realize it seems like the same thing, a job you aren’t getting paid for, but it’s a job no one is getting paid for and a job you choose for a cause you support.  That’s how I got my current job, by volunteering there first.  It’s at a library, which is something I wanted to support anyway.  If you are in college or high school, getting an internship that gives you class credit means you’re still working for something.

I feel like the whole practice isn’t something capitalism should be supporting, and it isn’t fair to anyone.  People should be paid what they’re worth, but if we’re going to act like this is a fair competition, it shouldn’t be systematically easier for the people who are already ahead.

There’s the rant for the day.  Join me Thursday to see whether or not I’ve actually finished Frankenstein!

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