Opinion

Unpaid internships still provide experience

Conde Nast, the leading magazine company behind The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue, recently ended its internship program after two former interns sued for getting paid below minimum wage. Now, eager college students are wincing because their foot in the door was abruptly slammed on.

I was accepted to the Conde Nast program last summer (although I decided to intern at an alternative weekly). The biggest tragedy of the company’s decision is that willing students will lose an opportunity to gain valuable career experience. I have had almost full-time internships for the last four semesters at two different publications and I wasn’t paid a dime by either.

While it would have been nice to receive some financial compensation for my labor, money was not the reason I took on an internship.

I have an extensive writing portfolio and well-known references — which will add legitimacy to my resume come May — but, more importantly, my internships gave me direction and validated my reasons for pursuing writing and journalism. I talked to people in the office, sat in at copy meetings and eavesdropped on different conversations. And through that, I’ve pieced together exactly what I want and don’t want to do when it comes time to apply for a paid job.

Certainly, I’ve felt the toll of piling a full-time course load on Tuesdays and Thursdays (especially around midterms and finals) and there have been times when I’ve had to do uninteresting things: I transcribed interviews, mailed packages and manned a check-in counter during events. I’ve seen the eye-rolling and frustrated sighs of other unpaid interns.

Before you take on an internship, it’s important to know exactly what the company expects from you, and it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s filled with career-boosting experiences.

Some of the other students in my classes have no idea what they want to do when they graduate. That’s OK for some, but that uncertainty scares me more than the thought of being unemployed.

I’d like to think I got more out of my internship than the companies I worked for got out of me. Sure, I did mindless busy work for free, but I also know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, and that’s priceless.

If additional companies cut their internship programs, it will hurt the eager students more than a lawsuit will hurt the company.

Jess Swanson is a senior majoring in journalism and English literature.

November 3, 2013

Reporters

Jess Swanson


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Either the Miami Hurricanes get a collective adrenaline rush from heart-palpitating fourth quarters, ...

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga, his face showing the strain of an ongoing ...

The No. 8 Hurricanes,  20 1/2-point favorites over next opponent North Carolina, are still one of on ...

Kudos to the two newest Atlantic Coast Conference Players of the Week: tight end Christopher Herndon ...

Mark Richt is not overly concerned with depth. Not when the eighth-ranked Miami Hurricanes (6-0, 4-0 ...

A University of Miami Ph.D. student in the Department of History sheds light on the dark history of ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

The Hurricanes may be young, but they have the talent and poise to make a deep run in March. ...

Miami tight end Christopher Herndon and linebacker Michael Pinckney were among those recognized with ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

The Miami women's tennis team wrapped up play Sunday the ITA Southeast Regional Championships P ...

The Hurricanes grabbed four interceptions and another ACC victory as they defeated Syracuse, 27-19, ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.