The Trouble with Unpaid Internships

These days, many young people find that the competition for entry level jobs is very fierce—so much so that to get a job, you need to already have job experience. But if you need job experience to get the job in the first place, how do you go about meeting this requirement? Increasingly, young people are finding that unpaid internships are the only solution. 60% of employers prefer to hire people who have completed internships. As a result, 55% of college seniors report having worked as interns, more than double the figure from the early 1990’s. More than one million Americans work as interns every year, and about half of those are unpaid. That’s at least 500,000 unpaid interns. If each of those interns worked 40 hours a week for 12 weeks at a minimum wage job, each one would earn $3,480. That’s almost $2 billion combined, and a lot of the work that unpaid interns do is worth more than the minimum wage. What’s going on here?

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