Unfortunately for the majority of recent college graduates, their achievements typically entail a degree but rarely a job.
Due to the moribund economy after the Great Recession, graduates are confronted with the worst and most competitive job market in decades. Businesses are reluctant to hire fresh graduates, so some take on internships, which prepare them for fully-paying jobs – or at least they are supposed to.
In order to get the internship among the increasing number of competitors, grads are forced to lower their standards or settle for less or even no salary. Meanwhile, employers take advantage of interns’ eagerness by assigning them basic tasks such as filing but refuse to pay them minimum wage. On many occasions, the intern becomes fed up with menial tasks and quits or gets fired while the company just shuffles them off. Now the intern who has not learned anything starts looking for another internship but once again has to go through the whole process because no company wants a worker with no experience, thus gaining nothing and continuing the permanent intern life.
Dissatisfaction with a steady job is also a factor that starts this endless cycle. Instead of a paycheck, many recent grads want to be dedicated to something they are truly passionate about. While they would rather take the risk of being treated poorly than give up a chance to learn more about their interests, they are setting themselves up to be played.
Some interns have already started fighting back against companies who abuse their initiative. According to the New York Times, two interns who worked on the movie “Black Swan,” sued the Fox Entertainment Group for paying them nothing for their work. However, many employers’ attitudes still remain indifferent to the interns.
The Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act clearly states that profit-making companies must foster an educational environment if they do not pay their interns, with exceptions for nonprofit and governmental agencies. This federal law must be more strictly enforced to support these faithful young adults. Provisions must be made by the government, encouraging employers to recruit more inexperienced graduates. Paying interns, or at least providing them with real, useful vocational education, will bring more active response and create a more enriching internship experience.
A stricter set of regulations with greater repercussions for companies will lessen the cost of pursuing one’s dream. With the current level of protection for interns, it is not worth the risk of new knowledge to be tossed around by businesses with no regard for an intern’s future.