“Everyone has to pay their dues”

In this section, we bring you some statements that illustrate the main arguments in support of the practice of unpaid internships. Have one of your own? email us at intern.labor.rights(at)gmail(dot)com. We certainly have counter arguments for every single one of the statements below (check out the “Against” section!), but for the sake of a balanced discussion, we thought we’d bring you a variety of opinions.

  • “If every business was forced to pay its interns the minimum wage, a lot of businesses would simply do away with internships. So, instead of putting money in the pockets of college students, your plan would deny them both the money AND the experience (and contacts) that could land them a permanent job after graduation. How is that a better deal??” (The Atlantic, May 10, 2012. From a comment by uponfurtherreview)
  • Internships were once called apprenticeships. They allowed (mostly) young men to spend time learning a trade by paying the company with a time of free labor. It was a winner because after the apprenticeship men could look forward to a lifetime of higher pay by becoming a skilled tradesman. (The Atlantic, “In Defense…” May 10, 2012)
  • “Having good references, contacts and experience is worth far more in the long run than the more or less minimum wage that people still in school can hope to earn, which is why people who can opt for internships.” (The Atlantic, May 10, 2012. From a comment byTimC255)
  • “Maybe internships are bad for social mobility and maybe that cost makes them on net bad for society, but internships are clearly in the interest of those who take them otherwise they wouldn’t be doing so.” (The Atlantic, May 10, 2012. From a comment by TimC255)
  • No one forces the unpaid intern to take the job.
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