It wasn’t until I was at Babson College that I even considered an internship. The idea of working for free never crossed my mind. But the value of being an intern is in gaining experience in your chosen field of study.
Lucky me I happened to work at a start-up internet company and I actually did get paid, a little. I mean a little. But I certainly wasn’t in it for the money. If that was my goal I would have done something in my hometown of Mattapoisett on Buzzards Bay rather than work in the hot suburbs of Boston. But I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Internships are valuable regardless of pay and I agree 100% with John Stossel here:
John Stossel writing at reason.com, June 4:
I’ve had hundreds of employees whom I paid nothing: student interns. Unpaid internships were allowed for years, because it was understood that interns learn by working. My interns learned a lot. Many went on to successful careers in journalism. One won a Pulitzer Prize. Many said they learned more working for me than at college (despite $50,000 tuition). They benefited and I benefited. Win-win.
So for years government ignored Labor Department rules that decreed unpaid internships legal only if an employer gets “no immediate advantage” from the intern. Geez, who wants that? Of course I got an advantage from my interns. That’s why I employed them!
Recently, President Barack Obama’s Labor Department announced it would enforce the internship rules, and some interns sued their former employers, claiming internships were “unfair.” Charlie Rose forked over a quarter of a million dollars. Word spread, so now unpaid internships are vanishing.
Some people say it’s good that unpaid internships are gone, because they are unfair to poor people, who can’t afford volunteer work. But getting rid of opportunities does nothing to help anyone. Employers lose and students lose.
Difficult as it can seem to make your own way in this world without a phony government promise that you’ll be taken care of, or that every job will pay at least $15 an hour, success happens when markets are relatively free. Individual initiative creates new things, companies, job opportunities—whole new ways of life—that make the world better for all of us.