Internships Students in unpaid internships, for example, must forgo other opportunities including paying work, and they must put themselves further in debt for these opportunities.
Kamenetz (2006) and Halperin (2010) take opposing views of the value of unpaid internships. Both write about the issue, Kamenetz arguing that unpaid internships distort labor markets and do not meet the needs of interns, while Halperin argues that even though paid internships are better, there are benefits to the student of unpaid internships. This article will outline the different issues involved in the unpaid internship question, and the perspectives that each of these different authors has to argue. At the conclusion of the essay will be a determination of which author made the better case.
One of the issues that both authors raised was that of the value that the intern was getting. In particular, since there was no pay, the internship must provide value to the student in terms of the knowledge transferred to the student, the training the student receives and the contacts that the student makes. Halperin, taking the positive side, argues that most unpaid internships do provide valuable experience or at least college credit. She cites a number of students who provided a positive view of unpaid internships. The theory is reasonable -- the issue is that in practice many internships provide little value to the student as the work is low-quality entry level work. While this might provide them with good experience for the entry level jobs they are soon to receive, Halperin does not resolve the issue of whether such experience is worth working for free. Kamenetz takes a clear stand on this issue. She notes that while there might be some gains in experience or contacts made from an unpaid internship, this is often not much, and does not equate with the ...
Kamenetz does put an emphasis on the cost issue. She notes that unpaid interns are often already borrowing for their studies, so that these internships put the student further in debt. Yet, there is little increase in future potential earnings from unpaid internships to offset this. Kamenetz does not provide citations for this, and in truth there is probably little evidence available to either support or refute this claim. Halperin does not sufficiently address the question of cost at all. While she argues that many unpaid interns must juggle the internships with school work and paid work, she makes little mention of what the cost to the students might be, both in terms of diminished paid working opportunities or in terms of the student's health and well-being from being run ragged juggling studies, work and an internship.
Another issue that Kamenetz raises that is the distortion of labor market economics that unpaid internships create. There are several points that she makes in this complex argument. The first is that unpaid internships effectively replace entry-level work, something that represents welfare for corporate America, implying that companies benefit more from the unpaid internship arrangement than the students do. The second point she makes is that unpaid interns keep down real wages, something that hurts all workers. In addition, unpaid internships benefit disproportionally wealthier students who can afford to work for free, creating a distortion in the merit-based economic system for the benefit of those wealthier students. In addition, productivity increases in the economy relate to finding the best matches between available jobs and worker skills. When unpaid internship experience is factored into this equation, it places poor and middle-class students at a disadvantage and delivers worse matches between skills and available jobs, instead emphasizing such matches only among a smaller group of wealthier students. The argument is relatively strong, if theoretical, and is not addressed by Halperin, who takes only a micro-level view of the issue.
That micro-level view brings about…
Students in unpaid internships, for example, must forgo other opportunities including paying work, and they must put themselves further in debt for these opportunities.
Internships Anya Kamenetz (2006) and Jennifer Halperin (2010) take opposing views of the issue of unpaid internships. In their pieces, the discuss some of the same issues, but they also discuss different issues, and the two writers certainly come to different conclusions about the issue of unpaid internships. At the heart of the issue are unpaid, rather than paid, internships, because this is a rising trend in both business and academia