May 10, 2012
Unpaid Internships: Bad for Students, Bad for Workers, Bad for Society

The economics of unpaid internships are obvious. Employers are desperate for cheap work, and “free” is pretty cheap. Workers are desperate for, well, anything, and students and recent grads are willing to negotiate their wages down to zero. But the ethics aren’t so clear-cut. If unpaid internships are the key to better jobs and bigger salaries, should we be concerned about the millions of lower-class students who can’t afford to work for free?

Yesterday, I asked you to tell me your experiences and opinions about unpaid internships. Hundreds of you responded.

See the first batch of answers.

What say you, Tumblr? Are unpaid internships unethical?

  1. katznjammer reblogged this from positivelypersistentteach
  2. nosebleedseeds reblogged this from thefemcritique
  3. thefemcritique reblogged this from theatlantic
  4. asongagainstsex reblogged this from theatlantic
  5. readingwritingteaching reblogged this from iamlittlei
  6. languidlimbo answered: well right now im in one and it is discouraging having all of this work with no pay. it’s hard to have incentive
  7. nomoredrama78 reblogged this from positivelypersistentteach
  8. teamanthro answered: In theory no but in practice yes. They are often used in place of entry-level workers re-enforcing a cycle of under-employment
  9. pegobry answered: No.
  10. donkeyhot reblogged this from secretaryofstateforomnishambles
  11. ekw29 reblogged this from fuckyeahcollege and added:
    I HATE YOU UNPAID INTERNSHIPS. YOU ARE NOT ETHICAL. YOU ARE DUMB.
  12. iamnotintelligent reblogged this from theatlantic
  13. right-after reblogged this from theatlantic
  14. aileenloveslife reblogged this from positivelypersistentteach
  15. suchprettywords answered: I wrote my ugba 107 paper on this!
  16. lesfuseaux reblogged this from fuckyeahcollege
  17. chrustian reblogged this from fuckyeahcollege and added:
    Well I’m ignorant as fuck. But hearing about people paying money to get their hands dirty for someone else’s thesis...
  18. desirsecret reblogged this from fuckyeahcollege
  19. fuckyeahcollege reblogged this from kjrdan and added:
    Putting this out there. Personal views withheld.
  20. pamelab answered: Yes…businesses are taking advantage of grads who have little job experience.
  21. whenimreallyathundacat answered: In a word, yes.
  22. jessfurrow reblogged this from saravee and added:
    I just started a 1 year unpaid internship this week and I’m not sure how I’m going to manage 25+ hours a week of it and...
  23. philipgirvan answered: Upaid internship : indentured servitude
  24. samriedel answered: As an writer, I have enough problems with people undervaluing my skills as it is. I’d rather not compete with slave wages.
  25. quarter-lifeuncertainties answered: My student teaching cost $12k in tuition. With no $$ from family & limited to 10/hrs of work a week, I relied on loans that now drag me down.
  26. spiritsdesirespiritsattain said: that same luxury.
  27. spiritsdesirespiritsattain answered: Yes! I’m fortunate enough that money is not a huge problem for me so I am unable to work an unpaid internship. I know many who cannot afford
  28. saravee reblogged this from iamlittlei and added:
    My students usually felt sorry for me and thought I was absolutely insane when they asked if I was getting paid to...
  29. thecursedpencilsharpener reblogged this from girlwithalessonplan
  30. smashedbearzilla reblogged this from theatlantic
  31. lokime reblogged this from theatlantic
  32. hummingbirdswings reblogged this from positivelypersistentteach and added:
    I love my internship. I love the kids. But I do the same exact things at work and I feel like if I get paid at one place...