Kevin Carey writes in the NY Times about the internship issue. His heart is in the right place but it’s clear that he’s bending over backwards to be nice to the college industrial complex.
I’ve pointed out again and again about how the evil rules force kids to pay tuition to get an unpaid internship. You can’t let someone work for free — unless you pay off the college industrial complex to grant “credit.’” And boy does the college industrial complex take advantage of this option.
Carey sets this up cleanly– and even includes a bit of mea culpa about his employers and the NYT:
Thus, the academic internship, in which colleges get tuition to not teach students and businesses pay little or nothing for students’ work. Tuition for for-credit internships is free money. Instead of receiving no wages, students are, in effect, receiving a negative wage. They are paying for the privilege of working. (At the New America Foundation, where I work, it’s up to interns whether to seek credit; most are unpaid. At The New York Times Company, interns must be compensated or receive credit; some academic interns also receive a stipend.)
But then he backs away from the edge and suggests that this can all be reformed. He writes again and again about how the internship marketplace isn’t academic enough. As if sitting in a classroom and reading a text book is somehow okay but sitting in an office and absorbing the culture while making a copies is deficient. “ This is a far cry from the rigorous examinations and thoroughly graded essays that characterize the best college courses.” he writes– being smart enough to insert the qualifier “best” to paper over the reality that most courses aren’t particularly rigorous or thoroughly graded.
Why can it be reformed? It’s a pain for the employers to grant internships. Heck, no one makes copies these days and so it’s hard to even find something for the interns to do with their time.
And the schools are just corrupt, pretending to offer credit for what is really just a waste of tuition dollars. There’s little that’s academic about the process and writing a paper is just kind of phony.
If people want to work for free, maybe we should make that possible. It’s not a pretty scenario, but it’s better than letting the college industrial complex get rich off of their students’ need to get experience.
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