1: Experience. Everyone, including paid employees, gain experience through their work. Gaining experience has never been legal payment for work, and shouldn’t be considered an acceptable wage today. When banks start accepting “experience” as payment for student loans, the experience can start being accepting it as payment by unpaid interns as well. The only factor that should determine one’s wage, is their worth in terms of the economic benefit they provide to their employer.
2: Academic Credit. Schools have found a way to charge thousands of dollars for you to have someone else supervise you. This is a historic time when people are paying to earn other people money.
3: Legal Protections. There are specific legal protections afforded to employees. Sexual harassment, ADA, and Workers Compensation protections to name a few. However, according to the law unpaid interns are not employees, and none of these apply to them. In the eyes of the law, unpaid interns are the equivalent to bystanders on the street.
4: Subsuming entry level positions. Unpaid internships are plentiful, have increased over 350% in the previous three years. While unemployment has risen, and hiring has frozen up, unpaid internships are the hottest thing. Many unpaid internships are now “virtual”. No longer do you need to travel to your unpaid internship. You can get supervised training from home.
5: Resume. “An unpaid internship will look great on your resume”, at least that’s what employers say. When no one will pay you for your work, your work is worthless. Why would it look good to a future employer to hire someone who others deem produces worthless work. And the unpaid intern agrees it’s worthless and does ask to be paid. If your work is worth something, you don’t offer it for free ever. As a professor recently said when hearing that a student of his was doing an unpaid internship, “You’re a BUSINESS major.. you don’t work for no money, that’s the point!”.