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Unpaid Internships: Rewarding or Exploiting?

Nicole Ramlogan

As many of you know, internships are a part of college, and they are very helpful in helping students pick their future careers.  Internships look really good on your resumes when looking for jobs.

One thing that concerns students when looking for internships is the kind of experience they will gain from them and if they will get paid for their work or not. When students sign up for internships, they are devoting a lot of their time to the companies they will be working for. Although they will not get paid a salary like employees of a regular full-time job, they are still supposed to get some money for their work. Working in an internship without pay is considered exploiting; there have been many debates over this, namingly in a recent New York Times article, which came to the conclusion that, even if it’s not a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck, interns should get some sort of reimbursement. Re-imbursement can be in the form of school credit or a travel or lunch stipend.

I spoke with Alice Baumer, the is the associate director of Cooperative Education. At C.W. Post, Baumer gave me a lot of helpful information and cleared up many questions that I had about the Co-op program. The first, and most important, fact was that the Co-op program offers all students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience that helps them work towards their major, and it’s available for students to apply for as early as freshman year. Most of the opportunities at C.W. Post are paid positions, so student will be able to earn some money.

At the Co-op and Career Services Office, there are also co-op counselors to assist you in finding the right internship for you and to help you reach an agreement between the employer and yourself, so you are not being exploited. They are very dedicated to making sure that the students at C.W. Post have the best experiences throughout their entire internships and are not sold short. All of the employers that students are assigned to have been screened by the co-op counselors, so they are very knowledgeable on whom they assign students to.

Co-op internships are zero credit on transcripts, so, as students, we don’t have to pay any extra money for the internships we choose to go with. Most importantly, the name of the companies that you choose to work for will appear on your transcript. The companies are not local companies that you don’t hear of; they can vary from local government offices to MTV, so there are a wide variety of companies to choose from. There is also no limit on how many internships you wish to do over your college career.

Baumer said that there is a program to help you find your job. “The Cooperative Educations and Internship Office also offers the Experience Enriched Education (EEE) seminar every semester. It’s a free, zero-credit seminar that teaches resume writing, interview skills, workplace etiquette and how to find an internship. These are offered in the middle of each semester and are an hour long for a total of four weeks.”

Personally, I was very interested in doing one or two internships before I graduate, and I did not know where to start. After speaking with Alice Baumer and getting more information, I am very interested in doing an internship now. I think everyone should do at least one internship before he or she graduates. It looks great on your transcripts, and employers will be looking to see that you have experience in the area you choose to go into. We also don’t have to pay for these internships, which makes it even better because, as college students, we are on a budget.

All of the co-op counselors are trained experts in their fields and are more than willing to help you find the right internship for you. They will make sure that you have a great experience as well.

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