By Hannah Schultz, Executive Editor
If you’ve been following this presidential race via social media, then you probably saw Ivanka Trump’s latest media-storm-inducing post: “How to make it work as an unpaid intern #nomoneynoproblems #interntips #internships.”
Immediately, Trump was criticized for the post, hordes of angry Twitter users sending a barrage of questions her way, such as, “What do you know about being an unpaid intern?” Ivanka Trump, daughter of the billionaire and Republican nominee, Donald Trump, didn’t write the post her-self—it was written by one of her aforementioned unpaid interns. However, regardless of Trump’s personal experiences as an affluent white American, her insensitivity to the problems facing many students preparing to enter the job market highlights a larger issue within society.
As the Huffington Post reports, it is illegal in New York City not to pay your interns at a for-profit company, unless they are receiving college credit. But in many places, this is not the case. Regulations concerning internships are often unclear, especially at non- profit organizations. These un-paid positions are thus consistently given to students with a wealthy background, who can afford to go penniless for an entire summer. As we know too well, internships can mean the difference between starting out at a low-paid, entry-level position or having the experience to land a coveted job—or even the difference between getting a job in your desired field at all and leaving that college degree unused.
As Darren Walker writes for the New York Times, “America’s current internship system, in which contacts and money matter more than talent, contributes to an economy in which access and opportunity go to the people who already have the most of both.”
Walker continues on to point out that students aren’t the only ones who suffer from this broken system. Many fields are losing valuable talent by denying middle-class and low-income students access into their entry-level positions, which are often only given to those who have experience from internships. An entire demographic is being denied the opportunity to offer their perspective and unique voice to the workforce, and as Walker says, “We’re all paying the price for unpaid internships.”
What is the solution to this problem? It seems simple enough: Pay your interns. This system rewards talent over affluence, ambition over contacts and hard work over mediocrity. However, for some businesses or non-profits, they cannot afford the extra expenses on their payroll. This is where the government can get involved through the creation of need-based stipends in order to fund internships for organizations that can’t afford their interns’ paychecks themselves.
Luckily, many organizations and fields of study have taken note of the vast benefits of internships for the future careers of students, and in an attempt to attract talent and staunch socio-economic prejudice, they have developed ways in which to pay interns. Kentucky journalists started recognizing the needs of its future employees and the financial strain an internship can put on a student several years ago. The School of Journalism Foundation of Kentucky began sponsoring KPA interns in 1993, placing students with a host newspaper for a summer and paying them $3,000.
For many students at Asbury, the stress of finding an internship before graduation is an all too intense reality. Let’s hope that before your time comes, the Ivanka Trumps of the world begin paying their interns and end this vicious cycle.