Author: benw

All Internships Should be Paid

PRO (2 arguments)


1: “Unpaid internships are nothing but a way for companies to exploit young people for free labor and in most cases, are entirely illegal” - Adam Conover, reporter and comedian.

2: Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end.”



Unpaid Internship: An intern that works for no money.

Paid Internship: Where an intern works for minimum wage or above.


Weighing Mechanism:

We believe this debate should be weighed on which side is the most beneficial for the intern.

1. Paid internships lead to more job offers than unpaid internships.

Paid internships provide valuable experience, and in most cases, lead to real jobs. If all internships were paid, interns would get more jobs offers. This obviously proves that paid internships are better than unpaid internships because interns getting jobs is always a good thing.


A survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that paid internships are more likely to lead to a job offer and a higher salary than internships that didn’t pay. Drilling down deeper, the NACE survey found that interns working at private, for-profit companies were more likely receive offers for full-time work. The report revealed that 72.2% of those students received job offers. By comparison, less than 43.9% of students who were working as unpaid interns received offers. In fact, the gap between students who worked as unpaid interns and students who didn’t work as interns at all is only one percent. This trend appeared at every type of company, including nonprofits. The biggest disparity was at state/local government employers who offered 50.5% of their paid interns jobs vs. 33.8% for those who were unpaid. Additionally, a study of 16,000 college students by Forbes that showed that college graduates working at a paid internship, will end up with a paid job offer 60% of the time, For those who were working in unpaid internships, however, the news is much less encouraging. Thirty-seven percent of unpaid interns got job offers, according to the data. That’s just 1% better than graduates with no internship experience, 36% of whom got job offers. Judge, paid internships are much more similar to real jobs, and thus they provide more experience and a higher chance of getting a full time job. The goal of internships is to teach young individuals the skills they need to succeed at their jobs later in life. Paid internships are achieving this, and unpaid internships are not. An unpaid intern is just someone to fetch the coffee and print things for the office, and this is just a waste of time. Furthermore, companies know this and as a result, they don't hire unpaid interns more than regular people. If we were to stop unpaid internships, then all the internships would be helpful to the intern.

According different study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2013 found that 63% of college students with paid internships had landed jobs before graduation. However, just 37% of students with unpaid internships were successful in finding jobs before graduation, barely more than the 35% of students with no internships who had landed jobs. According to Edwin Koc, the director of strategic and foundation research at the National Association of Colleges and Employers, "The unpaid internship had no impact relative to having no internship, at least in terms of getting a job."



2. Interns need money to prepare for their future and pay off college debts.

Paid interns face a lesser financial burden than those who are forced to accept an unpaid internship and simultaneously work a paid position, or borrow money, simply to make ends meet. If an intern is not being paid, they have to find another job to make money, rather than paid interns who get the benefits of an internship and a job with a salary. In addition, requiring internships to be paid would generate competition amongst businesses competing for talented new recruits, and result in higher salaries for entry-level employees. This means that when interns get permanent jobs, they could earn more money to pay for necessities and pay off college.


Many industries are concentrated in a few cities. For example, in the broadcast industry, internships are concentrated in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Many students cannot afford to stay there and work for no money. As a result, thousands of students have a harder time finding employment after graduation. If the internships were paid, they could work a real job, and the money would make it possible. 69% of students who graduated from public colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower. Already, most of these students are struggling to pay this debt. It is a lot easier if you can work a paid internship. The average hourly wage for a college senior intern is $17.57. That means that students working full time paid internships over the summer can earn up to $10,000. In addition, when paid interns got full-time jobs, their starting salaries were significantly higher than the starting salaries for unpaid interns. A study by NACE showed that the median offer for paid interns at a private, for-profit company was $53,521. In comparison, the median offer for students who took unpaid internships was $34,375. The same held true across industry sectors including nonprofit ($41,876 vs. $31,443), state/local government ($42,693 vs. $32,969), and federal government sectors ($48,750 vs. $42,501).

If college students work as paid interns during the year and over the summer, they will earn enough money to pay back their loans and prepare for their future. They will have better jobs, more money, and overall be more successful. In addition, paid interns receive better jobs and more money later in life, meaning their paid internships will continue benefitting them.  Unpaid interns do not see these benefits, and because of that, all internships should be paid. If we pay interns, the future will be better for everyone.


The Atlantic, NACE