Let's Talk

I'd like to open something up for discussion or at least rant about it for a little while. You know, whatever.

Let's talk about internships.

Better yet, let's talk about unpaid internships. Basically the bane of every college student's experience.

I'm just starting to think about this recently because it's that time of year again, and I need to find another internship when my summer one will be over. (yeah, I plan ahead. It's pretty much in my DNA).

I have now done two unpaid internships, and one is about to begin. One that-shall-remain-nameless was a waste of my time, my internship at College Fashion was kinda awesome (not to mention a good compromise since it was all online), and my internship with Malia Mills as advertising, media and design... well, we'll see how it goes (I'm super-stoked. Fingers crossed!)
So they are great experiences and resume padders. But when is enough enough?
When do I finally start getting paid for my work and my time? 
I have started asking around, and every time I express my intention to at least get paid *gasp* minimum wage for my job I get either a "Yeah right, like that's going to happen" or just a lot of laughter.
This is ridiculous.
I understand it's a function of the free market. Therefore, a demand for internships is high, supply is low (because the risk to the corporations for taking on an intern are high) so the aggregate demand curve price intersection has settled on... free.
Btw, it looks like I did learn something in my macroeconomics class.

However, I work for my money. I do not get an allowance every week from my parents. If I want to eat, I've got to work. I've had great oppurtunities come my way and I can't accept them because I need to get paid.
I've actually had one interviewer (the magazine will remain nameless. you know who you are) where the conversation went a little like this:
"Look, I'd love to take the job, in fact I would kill to take this job. But I can't work here five days a week if you won't pay me at least a little something."
"Honey, I have seven more interviews lined up this week, and all of those girls are just as pretty, smart, talented and experienced as you, and they are willing to work for free."
Enough said, I didn't get that internship.

I value my work. I feel I now have the experience to justify being paid for the value I will add to a company. Unfortunately, it seems whatever the job, someone is willing to do it for free.
Damn capitalism.
Some states are considering outlawing unpaid internships because they are "slave labor". While I wouldn't go so far as to call it slave labor, I do think that companies need to start paying interns who have a some experience and are able to do the work, and stop taking advantage of us.

What do you think? Is it all part of the learning and experience gaining process that you just have to suck it up and work for free for a while? Or are students being taken advantage of?

photo thanks to Yuan2003

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