The Sacrifice for Experience

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Published September 20, 2018
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The Montclarion
A student learns about volunteer and experience opportunities at the Community Service Fair that was held at Montclair State University on March 29, 2017. Heather Berzak | The Montclarion

Whether you are getting coffee, sitting around waiting for a command or fitting in an office day on your only day without classes, you have successfully entered the struggling intern world.

When students find themselves near the end of their college years, they know it is time to start gaining as much experience as they can get through an internship. While students most likely have the chance to take on an internship any year in college, the pressure and competition is certainly on junior and senior year.

Junior year is just as important to students as it was in high school. Instead of taking standardized tests and working on college essays, college students are working on perfecting their resumes, spreading themselves too thin and getting involved on campus. College students are told being involved is important.

However, every student with your major is most likely involved in the same clubs as you. On top of completing homework and studying, students are already scavenging for time to be involved and still have to differentiate themselves from others. I can relate because I feel the pressure of constantly planning my next move to attain my dream job.

Luckily, this semester I was able to take on an internship that understood my need to work a part-time job along with classes. I admit to spreading myself too thin in activities, and it is terrifying thinking of how many other students you are competing against. Other internships might be reaching out to students who already had internships as connections. The mind is full of clutter between thinking about the future and focusing on the present.

Full-time college students spend a sufficient amount of time in class all week. Surprisingly, their day is not over yet. On-campus students, around their schedule, will head to work at different facilities and centers on campus. Others head back toward home for work. Students who need to work cannot attend daily activities on campus. Therefore, those students are already set back when building a resume for an unpaid internship.

In addition, tons of students babysit as their part-time job due to the higher pay rates. Unfortunately, that is not something that will be a resume booster. The average day for a college student after school and work ends around early evening. That does not include homework or personal errands.

The pressure is enlarged when students come from backgrounds with not much help for school or underprivileged families. Students feel the need to gain experience as early as possible in order to receive a paid internship as soon as they can. Most internships offered are unpaid, especially if they are considered first or second internships. An unpaid internship provides no income.

After @adam22 released a controversial tweet regarding unpaid internships, Twitter users fought back on his statement:

Students who may be splitting their college costs with parents or taking on their bills all by themselves are caught in between having money or experience. Students could be working just to support themselves on transportation expenses, the mound of college textbook expenses or on campus meals.

No matter the situation at home, all students find themselves struggling to afford college costs to begin with. No one accounts for the extra costs that come with being involved. Students return home after the spring semester just to find themselves working again.

The Atlantic raises a good point in their article online about unpaid 40-hour internships, which says that “people are looking for interns that come fully trained and with a lot of experience already.” In other words, you need experience to have experience.

In addition to The Atlantic, Fortune Magazine questions whether unpaid internships are considered “exploitation or experience.” Are students being used as another hand in the office because they can be used free? The significance is how are unprivileged students ever expected to get ahead?

Students may be offered a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Florida for Universal Studios or near the bottom of New York for a prestigious company. Every dollar adds up, and traveling back and forth to the city each day does not come cheap. Although some companies might reimburse transportation fees, its guaranteed to come out of your precious pocket.

At the end of the day, these sacrifices don’t promise students dream jobs.

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