By Cameron Johnson
Job fairs, internships and networking.
These three things incite panic in students across our campus. They also give us an opportunity to earn high paying employment directly after graduation. This is an opportunity for students and companies alike.
However, the internship to work pipeline also feeds a cyst that is growing on our
economy. If you have ever attended a career session at CSB/SJU, you were probably told that the most important tool in a person’s toolbox is their
professional network. A strong network could be the difference between getting a job and not.
There are many ways to gain a bigger network, but I have found the most important way to grow your network is your family. If you are in a family that is well connected, you are more likely to get an internship. This means that the well-connected youth are more likely to secure high-paying jobs, who go to have leadership roles in that company.
In our parents’ and grandparents’ days, they could easily pay for a college education by working a full-time job during their summer vacation, but the world has changed quite a bit since then. Today, we have to choose between earning an income during the summer vacation or interning for a company for no pay.
Students are given a choice: start to pay off enormous student loans or work for free and gain employable skills. Many middle and upper class students get help from their parents, which allows them to take an unpaid internship. But, many of my classmates’ parents cannot afford to support their them by supplementing their income, so they have to work for money.
Also, most of the internships are located in metropolitan areas. Students of color and students from rural communities are disproportionally affected. This means that the few who have parents that can financially support them are more likely to find employment following graduation.
These two issues create a cycle which allows those in a higher socioeconomic standing the only opportunity to take unpaid internships. Internships are a great resource, but I would go so far as to say that unpaid internship programs are one of the most significant labor issues facing the American workforce.
In coming years, our generation will become the leaders of our country. We must create an environment in which we minimize inequality and maximize opportunities for everyone, so together we can create a better world.
This is the opinion of Cameron Johnson, SJU sophomore