Internships are a great learning experience for students to have a hands-on and in person approach in a job field that they are considering. They are meant to be educationally fulfilling for a student’s academic endeavors, but sometimes interns feel taken advantage of, especially unpaid interns.
Recently, complaints have arisen at schools like New York University where students claimed they were being treated unfairly by the companies that they were working for. An article by Madison Mills on college.usatoday.com talked about how new guidelines for internships at NYU raised questions about the fairness of unpaid internships.
At Seton Hall, the Career Center also has certain guidelines for companies that offer internship positions through the University.
“To the employer that is coming through us, we have internship guidelines that say to them that they agree to the guidelines which are located on the Career Center website,” said Donna Robertson, the associate director at the Career Center. “The guidelines say that the students are going to get real work. This isn’t about picking up coffee and getting dry cleaning; this is supposed to be a learning experience for the students.”
Students do not necessarily have issues with internships because of their lack of pay, Robertson said.
About half of the internships in Navigator are paid; students obviously tend to lean more towards paid internships, but sometimes a lack of offers in a certain position prevents a student from getting a paid position.
Robertson added that to prevent any issues that students may have with a certain company that offers internships, students are asked to report on their internship.
“It’s extraordinarily rare for a student to have a major problem with an internship, and if that’s the case then we try to intervene and make a phone call to the employer.” Robertson said.
Ara Barotilla, a junior accounting and information systems major, has a paid internship at Prudential Financial. Unlike some of the students who felt taken advantage of at New York University, Barotilla said that she enjoys the internship she has while at Seton Hall and feels that the compensation she is receiving is fair.
Barotilla said in an email that she is gaining new skills, a broader prospective, better connections and a more professional experience from her accounting systems and programs position.
Barotilla generally feels that unpaid internships are unfair; she believes that students should receive some compensation for their time other than experience.
Kevin Scimecca, a junior Journalism major, also has a paid internship, but feels slightly different about unpaid internships from Barotilla. Scimecca interns with WABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News and feels like he is gaining a lot of experience from his internship.
“I love my internship. The people at WABC are so cool.” Scimecca said. “They treat you with respect and they don’t treat you like an intern, they treat you like an actual staff member. WABC treats you like one of their own.”
Though Scimecca is happy that he is being paid for his work, he feels that sometimes unpaid internships are also worth looking at. He said that if a student is being treated well and is gaining experience, then an unpaid internship can still be valuable.
Scimecca said, however, that if a student is paying a lot of money to commute to an internship, then an unpaid position may not be worth it. Though people have their own opinion on whether unpaid internships are fair or not, internships in general are a valuable learning tool for students going into the job market. Barotilla said that internships are a great experience.
“You can immerse yourself fully in a company and take on a contributing role, but don’t have to worry about being locked in a permanent position. It helps you see the good, the bad, the ugly and the reality of your line of work; which all contribute to helping you find the right career that best suits your passions.”
“We want students to know that the Career Center is a valuable resource at Seton Hall and there are internship opportunities in job areas that students never knew were here” Robertson said.