Unpaid Internships, A Career Pathway for the Wealthy
The scourge of unpaid internships must stop. It’s give an enormous advantage to those with the money to live without income. It’s a slap in the face to every highly skilled motivated American who has to pass on these opportunities they lack inherited wealth or well placed families.
These are jobs, period. Most of us can’t work for no money. But these jobs provide vital contacts for later careers specifically politics and lobbying.
Essentially these are an extension of the charmed lives of the children of the wealthy, you know, the pompous fools proclaiming they got everything they have through hard work and intelligence when their every move was cushioned by private and public wealth. It is an ongoing somber warning to the 99% that you are not a player in this game.
It’s time for this practice to end and that the Obama White House continues to do it is not surprising. This administration is just as wired into the system of the malefactors of great wealth as any previous administration.
Let’s have a real system of interns made up of the best and brightest of those in our colleges and universities. Ability and competence are common characteristics among this great people, the Americans. Surely we can set up a program where college students can compete on the basis of ability not birth.
How the young elite rise in Washington, D.C. – Salon.com
What do you call an employer that refuses to pay its workers any salary at all? Answer: The White House.
President Barack Obama has called for an increase in the U.S. minimum wage. And yet his administration expects hundreds of young people each year to work at the White House for an hourly wage of zero.
The Obama administration, like previous administrations, allows rich parents in effect to buy résumé-enhancing jobs in the public sector for their upper-class offspring. The sale of public offices to rich families was one of the abuses of the Ancien Régime that helped to inspire the French Revolution. Like that corrupt premodern practice, unpaid internships are an inherently aristocratic institution. If you are in your late teens or early twenties, and you don’t have a personal trust fund or rich parents who can fund your living expenses as an unpaid intern in Washington, D.C., New York or San Francisco, then you are out of luck.
When I say rich kids, I mean really rich kids. We’re talking One Percenters. Even many upper-middle-class parents with professional jobs might not be able to subsidize children with unpaid internships at the White House, Washington think tanks or New York publications and media enterprises.
Because my own parents were not rich, in my twenties I could never have afforded a job as an unpaid or poorly-paid intern at any of the magazines for which I once worked in my thirties as a writer or editor — the New Republic, Harper’s Magazine or the New Yorker. Indeed, it was my unscientific impression that the interns at these publications were much richer, in their twenties, thanks to family wealth, than most of the middle-aged editors and writers. An intern at one magazine had a party for the magazine staff at her two-story Midtown Manhattan apartment.
Unpaid internships have the effect, if not the intent, of providing the children of the super-rich with major advantages over the children of the lower 99 percent in the job market after college. Imagine what a benefit a White House internship is on a résumé. Too bad that benefit is not available to poor, working-class, middle-class or even upper-middle-class Americans, unless they are lucky enough to find an outside sponsor to pay the wages that the Obama administration refuses to pay.
It’s bad enough that elite institutions like magazines and think tanks ration opportunity by discriminating in favor of the sons and daughters of the One Percent by means of unpaid internships. A president who engages in this practice sends a signal to all other employers in the United States: As long as you call a job an “internship” you are free to discriminate against the majority of Americans who were not born into the upper class.