Unpaid internships are exploitative, unethical

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By Kaity Kempf | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

The benefits of unpaid internships make sense from a business or economic standpoint. That’s why more than 40% of interns are still unpaid. Companies utilize young, inexperienced workers for nothing while gaining revenue from their work.

It’s a complete win for companies; however, it’s exploitative and glamorized for interns, who have the prospect of gaining experience and meeting new people in their respective career paths. Let’s be honest, a lot of Baylor students might be able to afford to take a few years off from working paying jobs while in school, and they often go for unpaid internships because they are able to.

However, if you are like me and countless others, higher education was never guaranteed. It was something I had to fully commit to financially — meaning there is little to no room for me and others to work a job outside of being full-time students without the benefits of compensation.

College is ridiculously expensive, and it’s nearly impossible for students who aren’t sitting upon piles of cash to spend their time outside of class dedicated to something that doesn’t offer anything in return. Experience just isn’t enough anymore.

Outside of the unrealistic expectations they set for students to maintain a healthy work-life balance and good finances, unpaid internships are extremely unethical in practice. Businesses that would otherwise pay an employee for the same work that a student intern is doing are simply utilizing students’ skills for free because they can.

On top of this, people oftentimes don’t want to stop this exploitative process of unpaid work because it is the best offer out there. But, like I said before, experience just is not enough these days, and what more can taking an unpaid internship at a company do for you besides filling holes on your resume?

If companies really wanted to teach young people and give them more experience, they would teach free and cheap classes, such as how to use Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Excel. They could also start apprenticeships, which are basically specialized job trainings with benefits like food and lodging.

But this isn’t what most businesses are doing; they find impressionable young adults with potential to sign some papers, tie to a schedule and lighten the workloads of ‘actual employees.’

If a company isn’t willing to pay me for my skills and knowledge, it’s easy to wonder if all the time and effort I am putting into them is worth it for what will probably end up being a recommendation letter.