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College Internships with a Price Tag

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In today’s society, it seems as if everything comes with a price. College internships have spawned now a new industry. With the supply of jobs steadily decreasing and their demand on the rise, companies, charities, and other various organizations have found that a pretty penny can be made from willing and eager parents who want their child to experience the best possible opportunities in the job market.

Internship Placement Programs and Consulting Programs

Companies such as University of Dreams provide services to students to help them be placed in unpaid and highly sought-after eight-week summer internship programs. These companies work as an agent to the student, assisting with resumes and then placing them into a matchable internship position. For these services, the cost is significant, ranging from $5,000 to nearly $9,000, depending upon the position.

Other companies like Fast Track Internships work as consultants to the student. They assist with finding internship programs that would be the best fit at a company that doesn’t have conventional internships. (This eliminates the competition considerably.) Fast Track will produce a stack of resumes and cover letters with marked, stamped envelopes for the student to mail. The price tag: $800-$1,000.

The benefit to paying this sort of money for an internship position is that placement is almost 100% guaranteed or your money back. If parents or students can muster up the funds, opportunity may be waiting around the corner.

Internship for Charity

In a recent Wall Street article, it was reported that charity organizations are auctioning off student internships. CharityFolks.com is just one of the many charity groups that offers a plethora of internships to be bid upon such as a paid semester-long position at the New York Stock Exchange, starting bid at $3,000; a summer internship at Warner Music Group’s Atlantic Records in Los Angeles, starting bid at $1,500; a one week internship with the casting director of LOST, starting bid at $1,600, and the list goes on.

Other charitable groups are also on the bandwagon. The Irvington Institute for Immunological Research auctioned three internships at Deutch, an advertising company, with the highest bid ending at $5,500. The Cosmetic Executive Women Foundation auctioned off a four-week unpaid internship in publishing at In Style Magazine. The position went for $1,000. (WSJ)

Internships With a Price: Right or Wrong?

So many criticisms have surrounded this practice. The foremost concern is that, soon, better opportunity will only be available to the more affluent students who will be able to pay for the better internship positions. If companies can make money off of selling internships, more companies will follow suit, leaving the less fortunate to squander their education by working at an entry-level, $10 an hour job because no other employment was available. However, others oppose that view saying that middle-class parents who are determined to see their child receive the best possible opportunity will do what they can to raise the money.

Other critics have voiced their irritation over this trend given that most universities offer career placement services for free, assisting students with the same level of opportunities. Students should be utilizing free resources than spending thousands of dollars.

Value of an Internship

So is paying for an internship right or wrong? Neither. The student should assess the real value of an internship and how it can propel them into the job market. Internships do not guarantee employment, and their value is only measured in possibilities. Placing a dollar amount on an unpaid internship position is a gamble, inasmuch, that you’re paying simply for a hope.

Not to be misunderstood, internships can prove to be useful, but ask yourself: to what extent is their worth?


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