After being at Clear Channel Media + Entertainment for about three months as a marketing and promotions intern, the reality of not having a steady income is slowly starting to wear on me. I checked my bank statement the other day. I was literally shocked by the number I saw – how could I have possibly spent so much money in such a short amount of time?
Although I knew coming into the internship that I would not be receiving any compensation for my work, it is unnerving to see my bank account depleting on a daily basis. I spend over $200 a month on train tickets into the city, MetroCards and parking passes and have virtually no money coming in; it’s difficult to go to class, intern, and have a part-time job at the same time. My mom tells me constantly that internships are opportunities to pay your dues, something that I agree with wholeheartedly, but it’s difficult to swallow the fact that technically I am paying to work for someone.
I’m lucky that I have a good amount of money saved so that I have not had to reach out to my parents for help yet, but I am very aware of the fact that I might have to do so at some point. As a 21-year-old student getting ready to graduate in December, I want to be independent and not have to ask my parents for financial help. I have worked since I turned 16, so I’m used to making money so that I can go to concerts, dinner with my friends, etc. But because I no longer have money coming in, I really have to stop going out for lunch and dinner when it really is not necessary.
The reality of the situation is that once I enter the job world, I will have an onslaught of bills that I never had before. Although it will be tough, especially with my self-proclaimed shopping addiction, I have to start cutting back on spending money on unnecessary extracurricular activities and really focus on saving the money I have. It is scary to think of things such as paying bills and saving for the future, especially when you are used to living at home or in a dorm room with virtually nothing too serious to worry about. The real world is creeping up on me faster than I expected, and it’s very overwhelming to think about.
Fortunately for people with time left to intern, I have noticed a trend in companies providing students compensation for their work. Recently there have been a few lawsuits regarding interns being overworked with no pay. I think it makes sense that companies want to protect themselves from the potential legal actions, especially when they know interns do a lot of the same work as full-timers but for free.
Alexandra D’Aluisio is a junior journalism major from Scotch Plains, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.