Paying For Internships? Your Thoughts.

While I’m sure this topic has been discussed in other blog posts, I have been amazed at the manner in which it has started to grow in college career planning.  It all started about three months ago when I read an article about parents in NYC paying $8,000 for their daughter to have an unpaid internship at a marketing company in the city.  Is it just me or is there something inherently wrong with this picture?  While I understand the frustrations of the market have left many stellar young adults scrambling for internships, the idea of access through finances rather than merit can be tough to swallow. 

The reason why I bring this topic up today is because I have recently discovered several companies that are basically selling  college students “access” to companies and executives.  Most of these companies pair a student with an executive at a particular company with the ultimate goal providing the young adult with a “mentor”.  While I believe mentoring can be the strongest foundational brick in a great career, most of these companies are charging several hundred dollars a day for this “access”.  My personal beliefs are that mentors should provide guidance and advice as a result of their desire to help pave the way for a young boy or girl.  Giving someone a financial incentive to mentor a student seems to contradict the purpose of mentoring.   While I think it’s time for me to get off my soap box, I’d love to get your comments about this practice.  Do you think it is an industry that will be here today, gone tomorrow?  Or is this something that may be the next big thing in college career planning?  Let me know.

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One Comment on “Paying For Internships? Your Thoughts.”

  1. May 5, 2009 at 5:12 am #

    This is an interesting issue, indeed. I am not categorically opposed to paying for internships, but I don’t think this is the best option for the vast majority of college students.
    1. Searching for jobs and searching for internships involve many of the same strategies. When college students work through the process of finding an internship through networking, using various job search tools, etc., they are better prepared for job searching as they approach graduation. Furthermore, if they are later laid off (all too common right now), or decide to change jobs (often the case 1-3 years into first job), the process of starting up a job search will be much less daunting because they will have already conducted at least two employment searches.
    2. Paying for an internship is just not a financially feasible option for many college students, or their parents. It’s often a financial burden just to take an UNPAID internship. On top of that, some students choose, or are required, to seek academic credit for their internship, which means they are already paying for the “internship course” offered by their institution in order to receive credit. To have to pay just to have access to companies or executives just doesn’t seem like a realistic option for most.
    This isn’t to say that there are not individuals who would find these types of for-a-fee internship services useful. However, I would discourage most college students from turning to these services as their first option.

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