Paying Big Bucks to Land an Unpaid Internship

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

It's the end of summer, and that means that businesses around the country are being emptied of their interns. Early this summer, they arrived with their youth and their ambition. As the air turns crisp, they go home, leaving behind neatly stacked piles of folders, well organized databases, and, perhaps, a good impression.  

But a small group of those interns left something else behind: a wad of cash. Today, a growing number of young people – or their parents – are paying thousands of dollars for the privilege of working an unpaid internship.

What does this say about the lengths young people and their parents will go to in order land a good job? And who really benefits from this setup? Jenna Johnson has researched this topic for the Washington Post, and joins us to discuss it.

We also speak with Farah Ardeshir. She just started her junior year at Eastern Kentucky University, majoring in political science. This summer, Farah used a placement agency to land an internship with a nonprofit human rights organization in DC. Was it worth it? Farah says the jury's still out.


Farah Ardeshir and Jenna Johnson

Produced by:

Posey Gruener

Comments [2]


As a resident of Kentucky, I certainly do not approve of my state taxes being wasted on providing this Farah Ardeshir with the privilege to travel and have fun. She doesn't sound too bright either with the constant "like" and schoolgirl giggles.
There are countless kids who can't even afford to go to college yet this single student is gifted the cost of almost a year of in-state college tuition to put something on her resume and improve her GPA while I pay for her residency and travel.
I am upset but have nothing against the young woman, good for her. My problem is with the school administration and the State of Kentucky for being so irresponsible with whatever little funds we have available.

Jan. 23 2011 02:55 AM

I can understand the arguments for both sides of this issue, and I still don't know how I feel about paying for an internship. It seems unfair to the underprivileged students, if they don't have $9,000 they will never get the chance to work for someone such as Richard Branson (it costs $9,000 for an internship with him). This just doesn't seem fair to me, I know a ton of people who would be overly qualified to work for him, but certainly don't have $9,000 sitting around. This is a really tough issue and I can see it getting worse as time goes on.

Oct. 30 2010 02:35 PM

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