College Blog: Getting credit where credit is due

Is it OK for students to have to pay to get credit for an unpaid internship?

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It seems like finding an internship in college is a lot like finding love in college. It's hard to find one that's a good match for you. Students will apply to dozens of places, but might only hear back from one or two - if they're lucky.

The search for the perfect internship becomes even harder when payment comes into play.

"I've applied to maybe 15 different internships," says second-year RIT journalism student TiannaManon. "All but one of those is for credit only."

The problem with credit-only internships? If students are not currently taking classes at a college, they have to pay for all of the credits they would get from the internship.

"If I were to do an internship over the summer, it would cost me $960 per credit," Manon says.

Paying for credits is a problem for a lot of students like Manon. While engineers and software designers can find paid internships easily, liberal-arts students have a much more difficult time finding a paid internship.

For months I've been searching for internships in the journalism and photography fields. The few that I have come across that actually pay are in Manhattan, where you would end up paying more to live than you would make working for three months at that internship. Not to mention that it seems like the only ones that pay are the ones that require you to already have a few internships under your belt.

After my entire Newswriting II class this quarter presented our list of dream internships the other week, my professor HindaMandell pointed out something very obvious, that I had honestly not thought about too much before.

"To get a good internship, you have to have already had an internship somewhere else," said Mandell.

Looking at all of these internship application requirements online, I realize just how true it is. You need experience to get experience in this world. The only bad thing is that sometimes you just might have to pay for that experience.

Since I am leaving school soon, I am looking into internships all over the country. But since the vast majority of internships related to my field of work are unpaid, and since it is illegal for companies to have people work for free, it looks like I just might have to pay to get credit for an internship.

Honestly, I'd rather work for free than pay for experience.

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