When I went on my first tour around Georgia Tech, I remember how my mother’s eyes lit up when the tour guide informed us that every employer that came to the Georgia Tech career fair offered a paid internship opportunity. I have always been in the fortunate situation where I did not have to work during college to pay for my tuition, but I have always tried to have a job to help my mother pay for my housing and meals. Recently, the New York Post called attention to the fact that the National Football League, a 15.26 billion dollar organization, is offering unpaid internships for this summer. The public outcry all stemmed from a tweet posted by Jane Slater that detailed the opportunity and its unpaid nature. There was an immediate divide between those who saw the benefits of an unpaid internship and those who considered it to be a product of a persistent socioeconomic divide.
On the one hand, there is a response that says that unpaid internship is a foot in a billion dollar door that can lead to infinite amounts of success later. It is an opportunity to network, expand their skillset, and learn about corporate America before graduation. Specifically, many NFL analysts have been responding to the tweet saying that they would have never made it to where they are without an unpaid internship in their field that propelled them to continue on this path or help them have experience to discuss so that they can have a true conversation with a future interviewer.
On the other side of the discussion, there are people coming forward who say that unpaid internships are a form of exploitation of the youth who don’t know how to look for a paid opportunity. On the other hand, there is a population of young people who do not have the chance to take on an unpaid internship simply because they have to always have income coming in to pay for college. Therefore, this group is unable to ever accept an unpaid opportunity even though they may be just as qualified as the other candidate.
Ultimately, it is a move in a positive direction to hold these billion-dollar corporations accountable for their actions, but on a larger scale, to also question the idea of what ramifications the idea of an “unpaid internship” could be upholding.