Use, don’t abuse

DKS Editors

Internships are great — most of the time. Internships can provide college students with valuable experiences you can’t find in the classroom.

Many programs at Kent State either require an internship as part of the curriculum or offer students the chance to earn credit. This helps students learn from professionals in their industry and make connections that often lead to job offers after graduation.

Professors at Kent State seem to be committed to helping find the best opportunities for students, but we’re concerned that some companies they find are taking advantage of free labor.

The New York Times and The Huffington Post recently wrote about students going broke in order to intern and completing tasks that only benefited the employer. The articles stated officials in several states are concerned labor laws are being violated and are looking into ways to enforce such laws.

This problem is spreading. Interns should be asked to do lower-level tasks like filing and making copies. They should not be asked to wash windows or mop floors. If students are taking out loans and waiting tables at night to make it through their internship, they should at least come away with a tangible set of skills.

The trade-off for internships that are not paid, which many these days are not, is the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and advice from a professional. Companies should not turn to students to keep their businesses afloat.

Because internships are becoming the new norm, many students are in a vulnerable position. They feel they cannot say no. Kudos to employers who see the value in mentoring interns; we will be the ones in charge very soon.

Internships should be educational experiences, not crippling burdens on students. The economy is still tough, and we think students need a fighting chance.

This is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.