Should Internships Be Paid? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Araksya Karapetyan

Should Internships Be Paid?

Posted: Updated:

This question often comes up: should internships be paid?

Recently, the White House has come under pressure to pay its interns. Fair Pay Campaign, an advocacy group, is pushing the White House to pay its interns.

At the moment, interns are not compensated, housing is not provided, and interns are expected to work Monday- Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Federal law breaks it down like this- an unpaid internship is acceptable for public and governmental agencies, religious groups, charitable and other nonprofit organizations, according to the Labor Department.

Some say just because you call someone an "intern" doesn't mean you get out of paying them- free labor is not ok. Getting paid is part of having a "real" life experience, it teaches responsibility. There is also the fact that not everyone can afford to take an unpaid internship. So in a sense, unpaid internships limits opportunities.

Then there is the argument that interning is all about getting experience, meeting people, making connections. Networking is invaluable, which can lead to long term prospects, you get something you just can't get in the classroom. There is no price on the experience you gain.

I remember interning at three places simultaneously for months, while I worked part-time. It was the summer after I graduated from Syracuse University with an international relations and broadcast journalism degree. At the time, I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. Up until then I hadn't interned anywhere. But all of the sudden I had a boost of energy and things suddenly became very clear for me. So I went from zero internships to three! My internships at KFI 640 AM radio, KABC-TV, Torrance CitiCABLE 3 were not paid. There were days I went to all three on the same day- I spent my time driving from Glendale, to Burbank, to Torrance. It was a lot. But I wanted to do it. I took every single opportunity that was presented to me and I worked hard. Now to be fair, I lived at home at the time and my family financially backed me up. Could I have pulled off all three unpaid internships without support? Probably not... But I was lucky enough to have the capability to do it.

It's clear that students who can afford to accept unpaid internships, like those at the White House, do benefit. However, the debate over whether enough students with low-income backgrounds get the chance is not over yet.

That being said, I am a firm believer that when you are determined to make something happen, you will.

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