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>Students coming out of school need job experience to compete.
>Experiential learning (whether paid or unpaid) is like an apprenticeship: it
>benefits both parties.
Internships *may* or *may not* benefit both parties. I have observed some
where only the employer benefits.
Unpaid internships are troubling. No matter how you slice it, the bottom
line message to the company, the intern, and the other people in the field
is that "This work does not have to be compensated. There are people who
will do it for free or even pay for the privilege (tuition)."
One poster noted that there are some people, such as those in job retraining
programs, who are, by law, not paid by the employer during their internship.
Good point. We should resist those rules with special vehemence. Because a
law that requires the company to get for free what they would normally pay
for (labor from interns) creates a system in which the employees' taxes are
going to subsidize interns, who are depressing the wages in the field and
creating a pool of surplus workers.
I am *not* arguing against tax-supported training programs, only against any
that artificially lowers the cost of labor to the companies using the
interns. It does no good to say "but it creates jobs" if the only jobs it
"creates" are unpaid or subsidized.
The other wrinkle with schools and university sponsorship is that I get the
sense that the same companies that donate funds to the school or program are
the ones that get first crack at the interns at placement time. In other
words, the company starts seeing the school as the source of cheap (or free)
labor for special projects, drudge jobs, ... and they know that the serfs
can't object because they need the internship.
It's nice for schools to think about requiring "real-world experience" --
but the experience should be real, which means paid.
John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)
The Bill of Rights--The Original Contract with America
Accept no substitutes. Beware of imitations. Insist on the genuine articles.